Experts Warn Against Smoked foods, Taste Enhancers

Ruth Oginyi

Ebonyi residents friday observe the 2022 world food safety day with the theme: Safer food, Safer Health.

World Food Safety Day is observed on June 7, every year.

The event took place at Alex Ekwueme federal teaching hospital Abakaliki was organized by world health organization in collaboration with Ebonyi state ministry of health and other partners including Nutrition Association of Nigeria, Breakthrough Action Nigeria and USAID-integrated health Programme (IHP).

At the event, families, food vendors and were enjoined to use natural and organic seasonings in food preparation rather than unnatural seasonings, to enhance the taste of the food.

The Chairperson, Nutrition Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State chapter, Mrs Nwabumma Asuzu said that World Food Day celebration is jointly facilitated the World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to her, an estimate of 600 million cases of food born illnesses yearly world wide, unsafe food is a hazard to human health and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, particularly women and children as well as populations affected by conflict, and migrants.

Asuzu added that an estimated 420, 000 people around the world die every year after eating infected food and children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the food burn disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.

Asuzu emphasized that World Food Safety Day aims to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage food borne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

She advised against artificial flavours, preservatives in food preparation, noting that the high incidence of Cancer and other dangerous illnesses prevalent in society today were the effect of unhealthy and toxic foods.

She also warned against smoked food because of its high toxicity.

“Smoking is a method of preserving foods, but we have to let people understand that there are also health hazards associated with that.

“When you smoke your fish, meat or other foods, there are some measures you have to put in place to ensure they are safe for consumption.

“If you have fish already smoked, we advice that you wash the smoked back out, and while cooking, you add some natural spices like Ginger, Garlic, and even what we call scent leaf, which will aid in diminishing those chemical and potentially harmful substances already in the food.

“There is every need to run away from chemical flavours, spices and other taste enhancers because of their health hazards.”

Christan Akpan of WHO and Emenike Charles, pleaded that those into fast food business should consider the consumers first.

Dr. Emenike Challenged regulatory agencies such as NAFDAC, SON to raise up to their responsiblities in food safty.

Other partners who spoke to newsmen, including the Nutrition Focal person for USAID-Breakthrough Action Nigeria, Kingson Ofoegbu, and his counterpart, the Technical Director of USAID- integrated Health Program, Oladipo Akinmade as well as the State Nutrition Officer, Ebonyi State Ministry of Health, Cyprain Ogbonna, professor Thecla Ezeonu Director institute of child health FETHA, during panel discussion said that even as Ebonyi State was blessed with lots of food items, there is need maintain hygiene and the right combination of these food to achieve desired nutrients.

Akinmade observed that Lassa Fever, Cholera and Diarrhea infections often witnessed in the State could be attributed to food exposure to causative organism.

Ofoegbu added that Breakthrough Action as a Social behavioral change project have been promoting 17 priority health behaviours, including adequate and safe Nutrition in the communities.

“World food safety day celebration gives us an avenue to enlighten community members, food vendors, hoteliers, market women, farmers and the general public on the need for food safety practices.

“Some of those food safety practices we promote in the communities are: keep clean; be hygienic while preparing your food, cook your food properly, at least up to 70 degrees centigrade; ensure that you reheat already cooked food, separate raw food from cooked food because raw food, especially meat, poultry, fish and sea foods have micro organisms that can contaminate other foods thereby leading to food borne diseases.

“Another thing we promote especially for children from 0 to 6 months is exclusive breast milk as the best food”.

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