by Feyi Ogunranti
Food is an essential contributor to human existence. It is the fuel for human growth and development; quality of life depends on food. As the human body absorbs nutrient from food for the body development, other constituents/elements in the food most especially, toxins are also absorbed. This is why body immunity and otherwise breakdown is majorly due to food ingestion.
It is very true that contamination of food is a major cause of health deficiencies. As a matter of fact, food poisoning is estimated to contribute about two hundred thousand deaths to annual mortality in Nigeria. Toxic substances get into food through different means and they should be of major concern to you. Agricultural products from Nigeria were rejected in Europe because of safety. Think about it, if it is not safe for them, why should it be good for you here? Don’t forget export products will be about our best, so we probably buy and eat something of less quality to what Europe rejects.
Food handling, processing, and storage introduce many toxic materials to food, which is passed down to the consumers and finally affects the quality of life. So eating a balanced diet or being on a diet of fruits is not enough. How sure are you that the fruits were safe to be consumed in the first place? The consumer has no clue what the food item he is buying has gone through, the type of pesticides used or the type of preservatives added. For example, what if the food was dried by the road side and contains animal dung and car exhaust or if the beans has been preserved with Dichlorvos, the active ingredient in DD force and Sniper? What if the animal slaughtered for your meat is diseased or contains drug residue? The consumer is buying blindly and unfortunately, there is no way to trace back!
Consequently, some of the organs get overwhelmed trying to fight these toxins over time, which may be the reason for the excessive kidney failures, cancer and liver problems we now see in our country. Obviously, food consumers in Nigeria have been buying and eating blindly but now we need to stop taking chances and make conscious effort to get safe foods.
I am currently making efforts to work with farmers and food handlers to adopt best practices in food handling.
Feyi Ogunranti is a food scientist, food safety specialist and a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow. Please follow his series on food safety to know how to discern safe and unsafe food. You can also visit www.foodsafetyng.blogspot.com