News Analysis

Using Harmful Substances to Cook and Process Food

The absorption and utilization of food by the body is fundamental to nutrition and is facilitated by digestion while food processing is the transformation of agricultural products into food.

Primary food processing is necessary to make most foods edible, as secondary food processing turns the ingredients into familiar foods, such as flour to bread.

In Nigeria, there are many ways to process and cook food, but these days, however, most people have adopted very harmful methods to cook and process food.

A new method adopted is the use of substances such as bleach, detergents and potash to soften soaked cassava roots in a day or two, that will be used for fufu.

This method is quite different from the original processing method, where the cassava roots are grated after three days of fermentation.

Also, most food vendors use paracetamol to boil meat.

Paracetamol, people say, tenderises the meat to avoid the long hours of boiling in order to meet the increasing demands as hard meat takes long to soften while boiling but adding the paracetamol to it softens it quickly reducing the amount of time to cook it naturally.

Research has shown that the drug breaks down into other chemicals while being used for cooking meat, that could lead to high acidity and very toxic to the kidney.

It is worrisome that many people are unable to explain how they came across some ailments, not knowing it was due to what they consumed.

This is indeed death by installments.

Last December, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, cautioned people against paracetamol to boil meat and beans due to its harmful effects.

NAFDAC says instead, people should soak meat into water for thirty minutes and boil their meat in a pressure cooker.

The agency says it will continue to monitor restaurant operators on the need to stop using paracetamol to cook meat.

NAFDAC should not stop at that, the agency should intensify efforts at apprehending people who engage in using harmful substances to cook or process food.

There should be more orientation for Nigerians on the dangers in using detergents, potash and bleach to process fufu as well as using paracetamol to cook meat.

Nigerians on their part, need to expose those fufu processors and restaurant operators who engage in these deadly acts.

Also, people should be wary of eating food they do not know how it was prepared.

As we all know, health is wealth and if we are not healthy, we cannot enjoy life not to talk of being productive.

Olaolu Fawole


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