Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (FG, UNIDO move to tackle foodborne illnesses in Nigeria)

The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) under the European Union (EU) sponsored Nigeria Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP) on Wednesday commenced a two-day capacity building workshop on food safety practices for food and non-food handlers across Kogi State.

Daily Trust reports that participants at the workshop include farmers, food handlers, non-food handlers, consumer associations and other stakeholders in agribusiness, amongst others.

Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, at the commencement of the training in Lokoja, said the initiative was designed to impart knowledge on food safety practices with a view to addressing the burden foodborne diseases emanating from consumption of unsafe food had had on the country in recent times.

The minister who was represented on the occasion by Anthonia Okpara, a director of food, water and chemical division in the ministry, noted that similar training would be held subsequently in other states of the federation in order to entrench the culture of food safety from the point of production, processing and packaging down to consumption.

He said the country had in recent years been plagued with preventable foodborne disease outbreaks such as cholera, typhoid fever, Lassa fever and methanol poisoning as well as presence of aflatoxin in nuts and series consumed by unsuspecting members of the public, hence the need to sensitise food handlers on the need to imbibe food safety culture and hygiene practices.

“Over the past 20 years, food safety has become one major topic globally in the health sector considering the impact of unsafe food on the population especially on children below the age of five years, immunocompromised as well as the elderly.

He said the training was imperative as it forms part of the strategies for the implementation of the National Policy of Food Safety which amongst others aims at promoting safe food practices at the grassroots, improve the safety and quality of farm produce; reduce the foodborne disease burden of the country and also reduce the rate of rejection of food produced in the country at the international trade.

UNIDO’s National Expert on Food Safety, Tehinse John, said the training would go a long way in enhancing the acceptability of Nigeria’s agricultural products in the international market.

“This project is to build the capacity of Nigerians to be able to supply good and safe food products to the international market. We realise that of late that majority of our products, particularly Agric products are not allowed in the international market due to safety concerns.

“This project is aimed at correcting all the anomalies by building the capacities of stakeholders to produce goods that meet international requirements. Kogi State has been identified as one of the states that have potential to lead in Agric business. We feel that if the state is able to get it right in terms of improving food safety culture, then we will be able to improve agribusiness in the state,” he said.

On his part, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello said the need for education on food safety could not be over emphasised, saying that the quality of people’s depend largely on the quality of food they eat.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Elder Simon Achuba urged the participants to take the training seriously and ensure they imbibe food safety culture at the end of the day.

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FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (Blockchain seen as tool in food safety)

The food industry is turning to the same technology used by virtual currencies to strengthen food safety and inventory management by tracking meats and crops from farm to table.Working with IBM, retail giant Wal-Mart Stores is testing the technology system on mangos in the United States and pork in China.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind virtual currency bitcoin, is a digital system that allows counter parties to transact using individual codes for goods.

“I see a lot of potential to create what I call a digital and transparent food system,” said Wal-Mart food safety vice president Frank Yiannas.

The technology enables different parties in the supply chain to share details such as the date an animal was slaughtered or the weather conditions at harvest time.

Data can be stored through a photograph on a smartphone that is transmitted onto a dedicated platform.

The system also can also counter fraud and mistaken deliveries, champions of the technology say.

“The advantage of blockchain is that the ledger is immediately updated and all the parties have access to the latest information,” said Bill Fearnley, Jr. an expert at market intelligence firm IDC.

Supporters of blockchain are especially keen to address salmonella and other food safety problems that can cause health scares that weigh on corporate reputation and damage sales.

The technology allows a more efficient response if there is a problem, enabling companies to locate the source of an incident more quickly, Yiannas said.

He pointed to a 2006 case where it took hundreds of investigators and two weeks to identify the source of bad spinach under a paper-based system.

But blockchain “reduces tracing from days to seconds,” Yiannas said. “The more accurately you can track food, the better.”

Demand for transparency

The other great virtue of blockchain is enhanced transparency by letting consumers look up key information on where food comes from, an asset amid growing concerns about genetically-modified crops and artificial ingredients.

That additional transparency also can help promote more desirable practices.

British online startup Provenance used blockchain technology to test tuna caught in Indonesia to help corroborate claims the fish were responsibly caught.

The technology also has been embraced by companies in the jewelry business to fight the sale of so-called “conflict diamonds,” which come from war-torn regions.

“Our goal is to provide transparency at every step of a diamond’s journey and ultimately re-shape the way we trade diamonds globally,” said Leanne Kemp chief executive of Everledger, a British company that tracks diamonds from the mines to jewelry stores.

But to completely function as a system, all the parties need to participate, Fearnley said.

Danish shipping giant Maersk estimates the technology could save billions of dollars by eliminating fraud and incorrect deliveries. It is testing the technology with container ships between Kenya and the Netherlands.

But the transition will require investment. A refrigerated product raised in Africa and shipped to Europe requires at least 30 people with some 200 interactions among parties, including customs, taxes, and food safety oversight.

Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (HOW NIGERIA BIOSAFETY MANAGEMENT ACT 2015 CAN NOT PROTECT FOOD CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH)

WorldStage Newsonline– The Nigeria Bar Association and the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) have accused the Nigerian government of not taking into account the concerns of local farmers and critical stakeholders in the passing the
Nigerian Biosafety Management Act 2015 into law, saying the contents of the Act lacks the legal safeguards to protect Nigerian
food culture, environment, ecosystems and human health.

A communiqué issued at the end of a one day workshop held in Benin City said the NBM Act was passed into law contrary to the
provisions of the African Union’s Model Law on Biosafety and the Cartagena Protocol.

The communiqué stated that there were several fault-lines in the NBMA Act which required the Act to be urgently reviewed and the GMO permits issued withdrawn.

It said the Nigeria government had been complacent about the covert activities of the biotechnology industry to undermine food sovereignty in Nigeria. According to the communiqué, “That Institutions that are created to protect our
environment and biosafety are actually hand-in-gloves with corporations that are trying to flood our country with exotic and
risky products and merchandise.

“There is inadequate information and awareness on food sovereignty issues in the media thus shutting out critical stakeholders, deepening public ignorance and inhibiting contributions to solutions “There is need for a local and national
paradigm-shift towards food sovereignty based on local contextual considerations,
promotion of small-scale farmers,
pastoralists and fisher-folk which have defined indigenous agriculture based on human rights and sustainable natural resource use.

“Production of GMOs is a threat to our biosafety; poses great threat to human and environment health and severely impedes the attainment of sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty /security.

“Promoters of GMO and their allies have deliberately ignored the importance and the peculiarities of Nigerian culture, environment and agriculture in their aggressive attempts to impose their products and merchandise on Nigeria.

Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (FOOD HYGIENE INITIATIVE OF NIGERIA FHIN URGES FG TO IMPLEMENT SAFETY LAWS)

Food Hygiene Initiative of Nigeria (FHIN) on Saturday urged the Federal Government and policy makers to implement laws and
policies that would guarantee food safety in the country.

Mr Nicholas Karimu, the Director General of the Initiative made the call in Abuja during the graduation of 1,200 of its officers on Food Preservation, Administration and Safety Practices.

Karimu said the three week training was conducted at the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp Academy (NSCDC), Sauka,
Airport Road, Abuja.
“We want the government, especially the policy makers, to make laws and policies that can guarantee food safety in the
country.

“The bill seeks among other things the provision for the protection, promotion and fulfillment of the rights of Nigerians to have access to safe food and water.

“We therefore call on our lawmakers to give the bill a quick hearing and passage,” he said.
Karimu said such laws and policies were long overdue, adding that if implemented, it would go a long way in promoting confidence in foods produced in the country.

He wanted FHIN to be included in the budget in order to carry out oversight functions for implementation of its bill.
He said the essence of the training was to educate and train food handlers, operators and administrators of the hygiene and
safety practices across the country.

Karimu said that the overall goal of food hygiene initiative is for the achievement of safety practices to prevent food related diseases.
In his remark, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Provost, Mr Iliya Sarki,
congratulated the officers for their
commitment and zeal during the training.

He encouraged the trainees to represent the organisation positively and be good am­
bassadors of food safety practices.
Mr Musa Abdul, speaking on behalf of other trainees thanked the organisation for the successful completion of the training and
promised to be good ambassador of food hygiene officer in the country.

Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (NBCC CALLS FOR URGENT PASSAGE OF FOOD SAFETY BILL)

NBCC’s President, Mr Tunde Okoya, made the call in Lagos at
the organisation’s Breakfast Meeting, saying it was imperative for the National Assembly to
expedite action in the passage of the bill.

The theme of this month’s Breakfast Meeting is “How
Europe and Nigeria Can Benefit from a Mutual Cooperation’’.
Okoya said: “The recent ban on beans from Nigeria coming to Europe should serve as a challenge for us to improve our
processes in food safety.

“As stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, let us pressure the National Assembly for speedy passage of the Food
Safety Bill.

“This bill will create a whole new industry in food packing and set safety standards that will create new professionals that will transform the nation’s whole
agro-industry.”

According to him, the passage of the bill will transform the sector the same way the National Agency for Food, Drug
Administration and Control has
transformed the nation’s pharmaceutical and food processing industry.

Okoya said that its passage would afford Nigerian agricultural produce to meet
with global sanitary standards, as well as enhance its ability to
compete favourably
internationally.

Mr Filippo Amato, Head of Trade and Economic Section of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said Nigeria was not also qualified to export
aquatic products to EU countries.

Amato, in a presentation entitled,
“How to Increase Opportunities for Exporting Agribusiness
products to the EU’’, said that Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda,
Gambia and Mozambique were,
however, qualified to export honey and aquatic products to
EU countries.

“Nigeria is currently not authorised to export animal and
aquatic products to EU countries, while Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda, Gambia and Mozambique are
authorised to export either aquatic products or honey.

“It is important that Nigerian farmers understand the export requirements to European countries,” he said.

Mr Chris Onukwuba, Head of Department of Collaboration and
International Trade at the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service
(NAQS), said Nigeria was working hard at making her products meet EU standards.

Onukwuba announced plans by
his organisation to intensify proper production, packaging, storage, fumigation and
transportation of Nigerian agricultural produce being exported to the EU and other countries.

“We should be working hard to be above the requirements of EU
countries because they are really
meticulous in their needs,” he said.

Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (THE CHALLENGES OF FOOD SAFETY IN THE NIGERIAN MEAT INDUSTRY)

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) say Nigerians consume about 360,000 tonnes of beef yearly.
This conservative figure is projected
to rise to 1.3 million tonnes per year by 2050, some 260% increase.

In 2008, while he was still a veterinary medicine undergraduate, Okan
Hembel bought a cow hump at the local market in Jalingo,
Taraba State.
He took this priced cut home in the hope of preparing a delicious meat dish for dinner. Instead of
ending in the pot, the whole hump was
thrown away.

“When I got home, I sliced the meat and I saw a deposit of
antibiotics inside,” Hembel recalled. “There is a particular antibiotic drug
which veterinary doctors administer to
animals. It is whitish in colour. It’s called PenStrep. Either of
these two antibiotics was responsible for that deposit.”

Antibiotics are used for controlling the growth and spread of harmful germs, both in humans and animals. They are widely used by
poultry farmers to enhance growth rates
and boost egg production. While
antibiotics are quite beneficial for raising disease-free animals
in record time, they can be hazardous when meat from
animals that have
high levels of antibiotics is consumed.

To prevent this from happening, farmers are mandated by
regulators to adhere strictly to the withdrawal period of veterinary drugs before selling their animals. The
withdrawal period is the time frame between the last dose of antibiotics given to animals and the consumption
of such animals or food derived from them such as milk or eggs.

Hence, the withdrawal period allows the animal’s system to rid itself of the residue of these veterinary drugs.
Although some farmers, especially small-holders do not
observe these
instructions, this is not the biggest challenge in the use of antibiotics.

Whenever farmers
misuse antibiotics either by using less
than is recommended or more, it can cause germs to develop
genes that resist the effect of these drugs.
When this happens, the drugs become
ineffective at killing germs which, in turn, results in antibiotics
resistance in humans.
“It has been discovered that
there’s transference of resistant genes
from animal to human microbiota,” Adebisi Agboola, an
animal scientist at the University of Ibadan says.

“Humans are the consumers of these
animal products [and] with the
residual effects of antibiotics, when
people take antibiotics for
common infections, it doesn’t work. That
becomes a problem and because of that, the European Union (EU) has banned the use of antibiotics as
growth promoters in animals since 2006.

The health risk of using antibiotics (in animals) is very high. ”Agboola disclosed that while Nigeria is yet to ban the use of
antibiotics in animal production, there is a gradual move by
professional institutions to
induce farmers to embrace alternatives
like prebiotics and probiotics. One of such institutions is the Nigerian Institute for Animal Science (NIAS), which is coming up with a range of policies and
regulations that will ensure that farmers comply with best practices in animal husbandry.

Due to prevailing
environmental conditions, such
as high humidity and poor sanitation in
Nigeria, which predisposes animals to germs, eliminating the use of antibiotics may not be possible.
Besides the indiscriminate use of
antibiotics, the rearing, sale and
slaughter of cattle are also processes that throw up challenges that could also pose health hazards to
people who consume meat products.

In Tambuwal, a local government area in Sokoto State, Juli
Mohammado rears cows for sale across
Nigeria. EveryMonday, he sells
about 150 cows to abattoirs and markets as far as Lagos. He said the cows sometimes
suffer from foot and mouth disease, a viral
disease that is common in cattle.
To prevent his cows from becoming ill, Mohammado vaccinates them
against infectious diseases from time
to time.

“I have doctors from the veterinary [clinic] who come to treat the cows when they are sick. Most of
the treatments are through injections,” he said. At the Sokoto Modern Abattoir,
the facilities are not necessarily top-tier, but they are a clear
improvement upon what is available in
Tambuwal. Nevertheless, the
conditions are still quite dismal.

Suraju Muritala works as a veterinary inspector at the
abattoir. His team of vet doctors check the
animals to ensure that zoonotic
diseases such as tuberculosis and
brucellosis are not allowed to spread. During inspection, the animals are also
quarantined for 24 hours before they are slaughtered.

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.”

Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (NIGERIAN: FARMERS IN DILEMMA OVER EU’S BAN ON NIGERIAN BEANS

Recently, the European Union (EU)
suspended the export of some of the Nigerian agricultural products into the members’ countries.

The ban exposes the loopholes in our regulatory mechanisms and
government’s failure to equip the relevant body certifying the
nation’s agro products for exports amidst porous borders exploited by smugglers.

One of the rejected products that have been in the news in recent
times is the nation’s dried brown beans suspended till June 30, 2016. Information from the European Food Safety Authority says the beans contained unacceptable dichlorvos pesticide
levels of 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg. The European
Union said the acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.

Dichlorvos is considered to be highly toxic, which can cause
difficulty in breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, convulsions, and dizziness among others.
Daily Trust sought explanations from the Nigerian Agricultural
Quarantine Service- the body charged with the basic responsibility of certifying agricultural produce leaving and
coming into the country as well as issuing the certificate for the export of farm produce.

Dr. Vincent Isegbe, the Coordinating Director, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service told Daily Trust that the rejection of the beans is due to the activities of middlemen who
sometimes apply high doses of
pesticide when the products are prepared for export.
“The issue of indiscriminate use of
pesticides is more by middlemen
who buy and stock produce in warehouses in anticipation of export.
Also, these people don’t know when the
buyers will come. They may
apply the chemicals today and tomorrow a buyer comes, they will just sell it; so whoever eats such beans at that time will definitely be in trouble,” he noted.

Dr. Isegbe lamented that there are many Nigerians who are engaged in illegal exports of agro produce, adding that most of the intercepted and rejected agricultural produce in USA, UK,
and other countries, were not certified by the Nigerian
Agricultural Service (NAQS).
“Some of the exporters even used fake NAQS Certificate. But what the exporters don’t know is that those countries will always call us to confirm; and we will always tell them the truth. That is why some of the produce are rejected, confiscated or destroyed,” he stressed.

According to the Director, NAQS has held several meetings with
relevant agencies to adopt pragmatic solutions to ensure that what goes out or comes into the country in terms of farm produce meets global food safety standard.
To mitigate this problem, Nigerians Agricultural Quarantine Service must be repositioned to deal with the emerging thread to the nation’s agricultural economy. The agro-produce certifying body even lacks legal status to prosecute defaulters who
export produce without their
certification, as the Bill for an Act which seeks to establish them as
an agency has been awaiting Presidential Assent since 2010 despite the establishment of the agency in 2007.
With over 50 stations spread across the nation’s vast land and
maritime boarders including air and seaports, it has less than 700
staff, which sources in the Ministry of Agriculture said makes it
extremely difficult to control illegal import or export of farm
produce without certification.

The Nigerian Custom Service
cannot certify the quality of beans for exports just as NAFDAC cannot
certify the quality of tomato, pepper, vegetables or beans that are prepared for exports.
Mr. Michael Adedeye, an importer based in the United Kingdom (UK) in a recent stakeholders meeting with relevant agencies said the major problem that led to the suspension of our beans by EU also deals with export certification.
Adedeye pointed out that all his products that were shipped from
Nigeria accompanied electronic
phytosanitary certificates issued by Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service were accepted by the EU.