NAFDAC has issued a stern warning against the dangerous use of chemicals in food preservation. The agency renewed its advisory to Nigerians, cautioning against the perilous practice of using hazardous chemicals to preserve food items.

In its latest alert issued on Sunday morning, NAFDAC highlighted the grave dangers associated with dichlorvos, a chemical frequently used by traders to prevent food spoilage.

The agency reiterated that the sale of small volume dichlorvos (100 ml or less), marketed as Sniper®, has been banned since 2019. It noted that larger volumes (one litre) are restricted to certified agrochemical outlets, stressing the high toxicity of dichlorvos and warning that its misuse poses severe health risks.

This renewed warning comes after a viral video showed the use of harmful chemicals to preserve foods such as beans, stockfish, and crayfish.

NAFDAC’s Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, implored traders and merchants to cease the use of unauthorized chemicals on food destined for human consumption. She outlined the significant health risks associated with dichlorvos misuse, which can lead to both acute and chronic health issues.

Long-term exposure to dichlorvos can result in developmental problems, memory loss, reduced fertility, and potential carcinogenic effects. Dr. Rametu Momodu, Director of Veterinary Medicine and Applied Products (VMAP), reinforced that the use of certain chemicals, particularly pesticides, to protect grains and prevent weevils in beans, is not approved.

She clarified that there are specific pesticides sanctioned for use as fumigants, which must be applied strictly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Direct application of these chemicals on food is dangerous and unacceptable.

Dr. Momodu warned that food contaminated with dichlorvos can cause dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, tremors, convulsions, and in severe cases, coma and death. She emphasized that pesticide residues can persist in food, and washing contaminated food does not eliminate the risk as the substance penetrates the food.

To ensure food safety, Dr. Momodu urged grain merchants, market vendors, and farmers to follow manufacturer guidelines and avoid direct application of dichlorvos on foodstuffs.

Instead, it should be used appropriately, either as a field crop treatment or a fumigant. Consumers are advised to avoid purchasing food from vendors known to use such practices and report them to the nearest NAFDAC office.

Prof. Adeyeye advocated for the use of alternative, safer methods for food preservation, such as bio-pesticides. She noted that food remaining unspoiled for extended periods might indicate pesticide contamination, not freshness, unless properly refrigerated.

NAFDAC has implemented several initiatives to enforce these guidelines, including stakeholder sensitization meetings, thorough laboratory testing to ensure pesticide residues do not exceed permissible limits for both domestic consumption and exports, and routine monitoring to ensure compliance.

Prof. Adeyeye reaffirmed NAFDAC’s commitment to global best practices, including phasing out pesticides banned in other countries due to their proven toxicity.

She acknowledged the challenges faced by farmers due to these bans and emphasized the need for transitioning to safer alternatives. Addressing concerns about banned chemicals being dumped in Nigeria, she assured that comprehensive lists have been shared with the media to dispel such misconceptions.

Sayo Akintola, NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, added that the agency remains dedicated to protecting public health by regulating food safety practices and ensuring compliance with international standards.

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