Food safety professionals seek quick Presidential assent to ‎’Regulatory bill’

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Experts in the food industry are worried that Nigeria’s persistent annual loss of N1 billion annually to ‘mycotoxim’ infection of food crops ‎is impacting negatively on the food industry, even as they have called on the President to prioritise assent to the Bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology (NCFST).
The Bill, among other things, seeks to regulate the practice of food professionals, while licensing them to monitor and perform their regulatory functions across the country in various food value chains, industries and markets across the country.

“If this bill is assented to, if you want to set up a food industry or a food company, you must employ a food professional that would ensure that what you are producing and giving out to people is wholesome and safe for consumption,” Oluwole Toye, national president, Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), said over the weekend at the fifth regional food summit held in Abuja.

Nigeria has experienced several export rejects of its food exported to Europe and other developed countries, on the back of poor regulatory framework that has seen various unregulated and unwholesome food leave the shores of the countries without proper regulations and standardisation.
‎For instance, a breakdown of data from the European Commission rapid alert system showed that 42 Nigerian food imports were refused entry into EU countries in 2015 and another 25 in 2016.

According to the agency, some of the food items are illegally imported and do not have labels, proper packaging, health certificates and other entry documents.
‎Toye informed newsmen at the summit that if the bill was assented to, it would help the professionals key in properly into its regulatory function, while monitoring closely the activities of the farmer, processor, … Read More...

How safe are the food Nigerians consume?

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Zainab Sadiq, who sells fruits and vegetables in Ketu Market, Lagos, needed to supply 20 bunches of ripe plantains and bananas daily to customers who buy in bits to resell.

But she only got five bunches of ripe plantain and bananas from her suppliers. To meet up with the high demand daily from customers, she resorted to applying calcium carbide to force ripening of the fruits.

Apart from selling it to customers, Sadiq also consumes the plantain and bananas with her family. She is unaware of the health dangers in the consumption of such fruits and vegetables.

“My family also consumes some of the plantain and bananas I sell,” the trader said, when BusinessDay interacted with her.

Sadiq’s case gives an insight into how traders and farmers in Nigeria have continued to ignorantly use harmful chemicals in the storage, colouring, ripening, processing, and preservation of food products in the country, which is a major threat to Nigerians health.

Also, traders and farmers use other chemicals which include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame, sniper, monosodium glutamate, common dyes, sodium sulphite, common dyes, rat poison and sulphur additives.

Others are sodium ascorbate, citric acid, sodium citrate, artificial favourings, zinc and lactic acid, among others.

Health experts say such practices are dangerous to human health and should be out-rightly banned. Many of the preservatives and storage agents are carcinogenic as they cause cancer and death, while others can cause depression or damage to body organs.

“The chemicals being applied by traders and farmers to preserve and force ripening of fruits and vegetables have serious health implications when consumed for a long period of time,” said Doyin Odubanjo, chairman, Association of Public Health Physicians, Lagos chapter.

“The side effects are responsible for the rising cases of cancer, skin … Read More...

Global food import bill to decline amid abundant supplies – FAO

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Global food import bill is likely to decline in 2019, but the poorest and most vulnerable countries will not be the prime beneficiaries, according to a new UN report. Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) latest Food Outlook projects worldwide food imports to drop 2.5 percent in 2019 to $1.472 trillion.

Mostly developed countries would enjoy the lower costs, according to the report, while the import bill for sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise. And while lower unit costs of food imports suggest that more food could be purchased for the same amount of money, that gain is cancelled out in almost all the Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries, whose currencies are weakening against the US dollar, the primary unit in international trade transactions.

Coffee, tea, cocoa and spices account for almost half the predicted decline, while the bills for sugar and cereals – despite declining international prices for the latter – would be broadly unchanged. Better news for vulnerable countries is the anticipated lower bills for vegetable oils, which typically are major imported items for them.

Published twice a year, FAO’s Food Outlook assesses market and production trends for an array of foods including cereals, fish, sugar, oil crops, milk and meat. The current edition also has special reports on the global impact of the spread of African Swine Fever and the outlook for banana, avocado and other tropical fruit exports from the Latin American and the Caribbean region.
The new Food Outlook also offers FAO’s first supply and demand forecasts for 2019/20, with detailed assessments of market prospects for wheat, maize, rice, fish, meats, dairy, sugar, and various types of vegetable oils.

It also offers updated information about emerging changes to the map of global food production and trade. Notable highlights are that India and the Russian … Read More...