Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE UPDATE (FOOD SAFETY AND REGULATORY AUTHORITY IS A MUST IN AFRICA)

Some three years back there was a debate around the use of brine solution on chicken that is sold in fast food retail stores across the country. At the time we requested the Ministry of Health, which is the only regulatory authority, to provide us with specifications on the amount of brine that can be applied on chicken and other food
items such as beef.

There were no answers forthcoming from the ministry, except a brief statement that the companies using brine solution should do it with care.
This week, the Minister of Health, Dorcas Makgato stated that the some imported foods are responsible for the spread of non-
communicable diseases. Our country imports more than 50% of food items from neighbouring countries, especially South Africa.

Such imports include chicken, pork
and vegetables among others, which are not subjected to intense scrutiny when they are crossed into the country and ultimately into our plates.
Many, if not all fast food retail stores originate from South Africa, their preferred destination for importing food items including chicken, and pork and even beef,
which is in abundance in Botswana.

It is against this backdrop that we call for strengthening of laws and establishment of Food Regulatory Authority or Commission that will be mandated with ensuring that all the food that is in circulation in Botswana is safe for consumption. The body can go for benchmarking exercises in developed countries such as in the European Union where public safety is given priority than
anything else.

The body should set safe limits of
ingredients in food items and drink beverages, and any chemical or colourant found in food items. We should always remember the China infant milk scandal of 2008; the UK sausage scandal of
2012 and Robertsons spice
scandal of 2005 as events that
demonstrate the need for
comprehensive food safety laws.

The minister acknowledged
that we have good policies but many of them need to be strengthened and harmonised and responsive to current and emerging issues. As matter of fact, the minister was too embarrassed to state that several agencies scattered across ministries
mandated to protect the consumer are not effective.
These policies can only be enforced by an Authority that dedicates all its time to ensuring that the public is protected from
unscrupulous traders and individuals who are bent on making quick cash at the expense of unsuspecting members of the
public.

The Authority will also ensure that traders who erase expiry dates of canned foods are severely dealt with. We have long neglected
public safety and the time to act is nay or else we will wake up when it is too late to reverse the damage.

The minister should take leadership in ensuring that this Authority is established before the end of the eleventh Parliament
and that will be her legacy.

Naija Foodie Update

Foodie Naija Update (Why Nigerians Patronize Road Side Food Vendors In Spite Of The Health Risk)

I just love the taste of mama- put food – Ernest Inyang, Engineer I patronize them not because I can’t afford fast food restaurants, but because I love the taste and flavour of the food sold at Buka joints. Some foods sold in Buka joints are usually not available in some of the fast food outlets.
Moreover, some fast foods restaurants microwave leftovers and sell them off to customers.

Mama-put joints serve hot, fresh meals – Dele Omojuyigbe (Phd), Lecturer Mama-put joints provide me with hot, fresh and original pounded yam which a restaurant cannot offer. I love the local dishes served at those joints and its freshness and originality. One good thing about Mama-put is that they hardly sell leftovers; their foods are served fresh.

Everybody is equal in roadside restaurants—Ogechukwu I prefer road side food to high end restaurant for a number of reasons. One is that it is usually very cheap and affordable, you can get whatever you want to eat for as low as N100, unlike what obtains at high brow restaurants.

I also get to feel the environment as I eat because I prefer natural breeze to the air conditioners in the bigger restaurants because of its health effects. Besides, in roadside restaurants, everybody is equal. There is no segregation based on class no matter what you are in the society, you will be served the way others were served. In big restaurants there is room for preferential treatment.

I eat at Buka joint when I’m too tired to cook – David Oboh, Musician- I eat from ‘mama put’ when I’m out or when I’m too tired to cook. Also because their food is affordable compared to most restaurants. I like the aroma and flavor. My favourite is egusi or vegetable soup. It’s affordable, with N300 you can eat good food at a ‘mama-put’ joint. These days, most mama-put owners keep their environment clean.

They are less expensive – Ibikunle Omolayo Johnson, Engineer- I eat at those roadside joints because they’re less expensive. Food from fast food restaurants are better but not affordable. I usually visit Buka spots on weekdays because I’m still a bachelor. My favourite is Amala and Gbegiri (Yam flour and beans soup) and ewedu (draw soup) with ogufe (goat meat). But I would advise that roadside vendors upgrade their services by maintaining good hygiene so as to attract more customers.

I pick the kind of joints to eat – Ganiyu Rashidat Temitope, Student- I patronise Mama put joints when I’m far away from home. I also eat there when I’m at work and when I have to leave early for classes. I don’t like taking food from the house to work, it’s cumbersome. But I do it wisely, I pick the kind of places I go to buy food to avoid food contamination and poisoning.

I eat at Mama-put joints because I hardly cook – Opeyemi Owoeye, Civil servant- I patronize them because most times, I don’t cook. So I eat at Buka spots on weekdays. I love Fufu, egusi and ogbono soup. I’m not sure what attracted me to those joints, I only tried it out and liked it.

There’s less possibility of eating stale food — Timothy I strongly prefer road side food sellers to big restaurants because the possibility of someone eating stale food in big restaurants is higher. I have never heard anyone complain of eating spoilt food at mama-put joints, but we have heard a lot of people say that about all these fast food restaurants and eateries. My point is that most of the things they use in preserving the food in big restaurants make it a big threat to health.

Food vendors don’t take cleanliness into consideration– Ezekiel, I strongly prefer eating in big restaurants because their level of hygiene is usually high unlike roadside food vendors. They make sure they keep the place where the food is being prepared tidy, because they are always inspected by relevant agencies.

Preventing Foodborne Illness
It is a fact that the activities of local food handlers and
premises are usually often not regulated.

This has resulted in poor hygiene practices and low safety levels of foods prepared in local
restaurants (bukas) especially in the rural and semi-urban areas in the country.
Saturday Vanguard investigations revealed ‘bukas’ are
prepared by owners and hired workers.

Safety Recommendations
Public health policy and practice recommend that in
order to reduce transmission of typhoid fever and other communicable diseases among food handlers, hand washing, universal use of plastic gloves and proper waste disposal system should be mandatory.

In addition, there should be access to
clean water and sanitary toilets near food service areas.

Government is urged to embark on enlightenment
campaigns on a regular basis and health hygiene training and retraining sessions
should be undertaken for these food handlers to create
awareness about the
importance of health hygiene and the risks associated with non compliance with the
rules and regulations that govern food handlers.