Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE( CONTINUATION OF HOW FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS LAND NIGERIANS IN HOSPITALS)

On assurance that his name will
not be mentioned in print he
said: “do you know where we
get chicken? All they do is just to
go to a poultry farm and buy
chicken without caring if the
birds are healthy or not. In fact,
some poultry farmers on
realising that their birds are sick
will just approach fast food
vendors to buy at cheap prices.
Ideally, there are designated
poultry companies
recommended by the main
company in Lagos for all
franchises to patronise but these
people out of greed will cut
corners,” the source revealed.
“Bird Flu and Ebola is still
hovering around, such practises
portends a great danger to the
consuming public,” said Abu
Ladan, a customer who
responded to LEADERSHIP
Weekend.
Further investigations by
LEADERSHIP Weekend showed
that only a few restaurant staff
adheres to their food production
standard. Many avoid the
specification manual of the
restaurant to their personal
understanding on the grounds
of years of experience.
“Fresh vegetables are supposed
to be blanched before it is used
for salad but what you find in
most of the restaurants is what
some of them will call ‘sharp
sharp’ just washing with water
instead of blanching to kill any
bacteria or germs,” says Stella
Idowu, a Kaduna based former
restaurant worker.
According to Idowu, many
customers are infected through
consuming foods that have fresh
vegetables in it as they are easily
contaminated.
Also in Kaduna, another former
eatery staff, Peter Odangla told
LEADERSHIP Weekend that many
customers are victims of
carelessness. Narrating his
experience he said: “where I
worked before, rats and other
creeping animals share the
kitchen spaces with staff. There
was a day I met rats eating from
already prepared pudding, we
just chased the rat away and
remoulded it and displayed for
customers to eat.
“It’s a normal practice when the
owners never care about
fumigation and baiting to reduce
rodents,” he revealed.
More so, Odangla said when one
of the staff decided to apply pet
control in the place over 100
dead rats were picked from the
ceiling of the restaurants in two
days.
“How much of washing of pots,
plates and cutlery is done in the
morning after rats must have
stepped on them and even the
raw foods, the situation is
terrible,” Odangla queried.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend had
rare access to some of the fast
food restaurants in Kaduna and
Suleja, Niger State, it was
appalling as hygiene standard
have been relegated to the
background.
In one of the restaurants, a staff
was seen leaving the toilet and
heading straight to the
production unit without
adequate hand washing. “Since
Ebola stop in Nigeria no need for
hand sanitizer again,” the staff
said.
While the fast vendors in Abuja
appeared to be doing relatively
good, less attention is paid to the
health conditions of their
personnel.
While document obtained from
one of the area council’s
environmental department
saddled with the supervision,
regulation of restaurants and
hotel standards recommended
that food handler test must be
done at least once a year, many
of the operators seemed to care
less.
The tests are supposed to be
done in a public hospitals
certifying the personnel fit and
recommend treatment if a staff is
found to be carrying any
infection. Many of the staff
interacted with in Abuja are
ignorant of it.
While a staff of a popular eatery
in Gwarimpa told LEADERSHIP
Weekend that she does not
know what the test is all about
and didn’t undertake it during
her employment, her counterpart
at Aminu Kano Crescent is aware
of the test but claimed in three
years, only once has she been
made to take the test.
A supervisor in another eatery
along the Herbert Macaulay Way
in Wuse who has been working
for a year has never been tested
while a junior staff told
LEADERSHIP Weekend that she
was recently tested and certified
fit.
Several other restaurants staff
said owners of restaurants
hardly pay attention until local
inspectors comes asking for the
certificate of medical fitness.
LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt that
all fast food staff are supposed to
submit sample of sputum, urine
and faeces for testing to
ascertain their fitness to serve
meals to the public.
But when LEADERSHIP Weekend
contacted the Environmental
Health Officers Registration
Council of Nigeria (EHORECON)
regulatory body for
environmental health inspectors
in Nigeria, the immediate past
registrar of the council, Mr
Augustine Ebisike said EHORECON
is only responsible for the
training and certification of
environmental health officers
who are saddle with the
responsibility of sanitary
inspection including food
vendors in their local councils.
“For food hygiene and safety,
that responsibility is neither with
the council nor the ministry of
agriculture or health. It is with
the environmental health
department of the various local
governments in Nigeria.
“The local governments are the
closest to the people, you don’t
expect a federal agency to be
monitoring restaurants and
eateries,” Ebisike said.
He lamented that only few
officers have been employed by
the local governments to conduct
inspections and mostly are
underequipped to do the job. He
also lamented that the lack of
salaries have also compounded
the job of proper inspection.
Document obtained by
LEADERSHIP Weekend from the
council indicated that Nigeria has
only 6, 271 environmental health
officers (EHO) against the 24, 000
the nation required to monitor
sanitation at homes,
neighbourhoods, hotels, fast
food and local eateries.
It also indicated that Rivers State
has the highest EHOs with 619
closely followed by Lagos State
with 607 with Taraba State with
the lowest EHOs of just five.
With the meagre number against
the millions of homes and
hundreds of thousands of food
centres across the federation,
many experts say Nigerians are
exposed to too much health risk.
“With these numbers, it is not
surprising that our health
facilities are always flooded with
the sick,” says health worker,
Christopher Odeke.
Meanwhile, Abia, Bayelsa, Delta,
Kebbi, Taraba and Yobe States
have not employed a single
sanitary inspector since their
creation.
Corroborating with Ebisike, a
senior environmental health
worker with Gwagwalada area
council in the Federal Capital
Territory (FCT) told LEADERSHIP
Weekend that the council has
only six sanitary inspectors with
three in charge of food
inspection in the council.
“Because of the shortage of
inspectors’ the council had to
contract some consultants to
assist in supervising food
vendors,” the source said.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Weekend
on the health implication of
serving the public unwholesome
product, an Abuja based medical
doctor; Dr Casmir Nnaemeka said
fast food restaurants have been
a menace since from inception.
“Fast food is the fasted way to
poison because our
environmental and public health
departments are not doing their
jobs. They are all compromise
and for the fact that they are
compromised you are bound to
pick up food poison,” he said.
He accused food vendors of
neglecting hygiene codes and
exposing Nigerians to dangers.
Also speaking on the matter, a
public health consultant at the
Ahmadu Bello University
Teaching (ABUTH) Zaria, Dr
Mohammed Sani Ibrahim, said
contamination of food occurs in
several ways including water
source, insects perching, crop
manure and people producing
the food.
He said eateries staff can easily
contaminate food through boils
and ‘boils have staphylococcus
which is one of the common
causes of food poisoning’.
Ibrahim also revealed that people
wearing rings in kitchen are a
great risk to the food they
produced. “Dirt is trapped in the
ring even though hands are
washed with soaps and the
bacteria dissolved into the next
food,” he said.
He added that foods are not only
poisoned in eateries but at
homes too. He said a food can be
poisoned if it is kept long
because bacteria can produce a
lot of toxins in the food.
He advised visitors to eateries to
be weary of what they consume
but lamented that many
consumers are carried away with
aesthetic beauty of fast food
joints leaving them with little
option than to consume
whatever is served. “Go for fresh
food,” Ibrahim said
In his reaction to the matter, a
former head of department,
Environmental Science Education,
University of Abuja, Prof. Bassey
Ubom said the focus should not
be only on food vendors but the
stages of movement of raw
material to the restaurants.
According to Bassey, the stages
of movement include the farmer,
transporter, marketer and the
user because all of them have a
role to play in food hygiene.
“People take water from piggery
to wash vegetables like
tomatoes, the consequences are
maratonic epidemic. Some of
them are now pandemic where
infections are transported
rapidly,” he said.
He added that the consequences
are glaring today with the high
case of cholera, dysentery,
typhoid, malaria and diarrhoea
reported in hospitals.
Bassey also frowned at the way
and manner by which some fast
food restaurants channel their
waste lines to drainages while
urging the authorities to swift
into action to save the general
public from infections.
Also a Kaduna based food
consultant, Mr Napoleon
Mamman while speaking with
LEADERSHIP Weekend urged
Nigerians to watch out for the
following whenever they visit any
eatery: “if you see any brown or
black trace line on the edge of
the wall to the ceiling, know
there are rats in that place. Nails
of person serving must be short,
clean shaved jaw, no long ear
rings, no loosed hair, no
coughing and talking while
serving you and the environment
must be clean.” He said.
Efforts at getting reaction from
Association of Fast Foods and
Confectionaries Of Nigeria
(AFFCON) was not successful as
calls to the secretariat failed.

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