Following the incessant use of Sniper as a tool for suicide in Nigeria, the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Christiana Adeyeye has said the agency, along with other relevant bodies are considering modifying the container of the agro-chemical as part of plans to discourage its usage for such illegal purposes.
She said sniper containers could now be made very difficult to open, or may be turned into a spray rather than the liquid contents it is known for.
Stating this during NAFDAC’s commemoration of World Food Safety Day in Lagos recently, tagged “Food Safety, Everyone’s Business” the DG said the use of Sniper and other agro-chemicals for preservation of food should be discouraged as they contain substances harmful to the human body.
She said: “We also decry poor handling of foods in Nigeria by producers and sellers, because the populace and consumers are being exposed unduly to health risks from contaminants.
“The World Health Organisation’s, (WHO) report showed that an estimated 600 million cases of food borne diseases occur annually while children under age five carry 40 percent of the burden of the disease with 125,000 deaths recorded every year.”
Adeyeye said in Nigeria, there had been reoccurring food safety issues as well as emerging issues including artificial ripening of fruits using unapproved agents such as calcium carbide, which she said, could have deleterious effects on health when such fruits are consumed.
“The use of unapproved insecticides such as Sniper for the preservation of grains by unauthorised persons, the use of containers contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as fertilizer bags for grains or chemical drums and jerry cans for food storage are classic examples of a common practice among the market men and women due to ignorance.
“Unauthorised chemicals such as dichlorvos for storage of grains and other agricultural produce by unauthorised persons could lead to contamination of the stored products.
“Implicated in this practice also are exporters and dealers of agricultural commodities who spray hazardous pesticides on produce during storage to prevent damage by pests at the cost of human lives and public health. All these among other poor practices unduly expose the populace to health risk from these contaminants,” she said.
Continuing, she listed other food safety challenges in the country to include; poor transportation, display of food products in the sun which could produce harmful by-products such as benzene in soft drinks, and use of non-food grade packaging materials, amongst others.
She also emphasised that packaging of illicit alcohol such as spirits could lead to blindness and death, adding that the agency will continue to do routine unannounced inspections to curb these health hazards.