By Ndidi Chukwu
Health experts Tuesday expressed fear over emerging threats to food safety resulting from the process of food production, distribution and consumption.
Civil Society Scaling-up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUN) and Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) in commemoration of World Health Day, on “food Safety” warn that intensive agriculture, mass catering, and global trends on food trade may increase the risk that food becomes contaminated before it gets to the final consumer.
Dr. Terfa Simon Kene, Chairman Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) FCT Chapter, told a press conference in Abuja that “increases in travel and trade enhance the likelihood that food contamination may spread in Nigeria”
“As Public health physicians we try to encourage food security agencies like NAFDAC and SON to take up their responsibilities and ensure that food is safe and food vendor’s premises are inspected and also ensure that people who produce food do it in such a manner that it will be eaten and the health benefit it is eaten for is derived rather than cause more health havoc on people” said Dr. Terfa
With the most vulnerable group-women and children-still affected by food-related challenges-Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, obesity, and non-communicable diseases, the group suggests highly processed and tasty foods contribute to the worrying rate of diseases in Nigeria.
“Food safety is an area of public health action to protect consumers from the risks of food poisoning and food borne diseases, acute or chronic because unsafe food can lead to a range of health problems like diarrhoeal diseases, reproductive and developmental problems and cancers” Terfa said.
The economic implication of treating food borne diseases, the man-hour lost, disabilities and death is unquantifiable “that is why NAFDAC and SON must ensure food is protected from contamination at all times” Dr. Riwanu Mohammad, Executive Secretary of the FCT National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said, but insist education on food safety is key for Nigerians.
Riwanu however advised Nigerians to boil water before taking it especially when the source is not known, as he blamed lack of access to clean water which causes diarrhoea on inability of local governments to provide portable and safe water for consumption.