Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (FOOD SAFETY- NIGERIA NEEDS MYCOTOXIN POLICY-FAPOHUNDA)

A biotechnologist, Prof. Dele Fapohunda, has urged the Federal Government to formulate a mycotoxin policy in the country that will among other things determine and regulate the amount of aflatoxin in food consumption.
Speaking against the background of the recent ban of some of the country’s food commodities from entering European Union (EU) member countries. Prof. Fapohunda, who is the founding Chairman of the Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria, disclosed that Nigeria had on several occasions been given alert on aflotoxin in melon and some other products by the European Union.
“If a country refuses to take advise from the EU and then go on to exports products that will not comply, products that will have levels of toxins that are permissible limit then the result is what we are having now.”
The University Don said the EU has a rapid alarm system that monitors what ever food item that is going into their territory as they have a way of monitoring, testing and “telling you that what is entering their countries is safe for human consumption or not.”
He said the only way to prevent the banning of our food commodities from entering EU countries in the future is for the to formulate a mycotoxin country.
“This policy will be a holistic one that will take care of awareness, take care of capacity building, take care of regulations, monitoring compliance and apportioning appropriate penalties where they are due.”
While noting that the researchers will have to come up with acceptable set limits that are workable here , Prof. Fapohunda, said whatever is to be done must have the backing of the National Assembly.
“I am not sure we have started this process. What Nigeria is using now is EU standard, I just learnt that we might adopt the CODEX standard which the global one.
He explained that the EU standard now talks about two parts per billion for aflotoxin B1 and four parts per billion for total aflatoxin in the food items that should be exported into the EU countries and Nigeria is even adopting that.
“The issue now is who ensure compliance?. Who does that ?, who goes into the markets to ensure that all these products being sold comply with the set standards. These are the issues to resolved and quickly too.”
The food safety advocate noted that Nigerians might have been consuming food contaminated with aflotoxin, because the EU ban has shown that “if it takes the EU to tell you that what we are sending to them is not fit for human consumption , that shows Nigerians have been consuming what is unwholesome.”
He said this a wake up call for the country to focus on food safety as food safety is an integral part of anti poverty program of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
“Consumption of aflatoxin contaminated food item is a form of malnutrition and malnutrition itself is recognise by WHO as an emblem of poverty. Therefore, if we keep on consuming unwholesome food items, we are all carrying emblem of poverty here in Nigeria.”

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