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Monday, July 15, 2024

NAFDAC warns against using snipers and other chemicals for food preservation

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned Nigerians against the use of snipers for food storage.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, in a statement issued on Sunday, highlighted the negative impact associated with dichlorvos (sniper), a chemical mainly used by traders to protect food from spoilage.

The statement reads in part: “The misuse of dichlorvos poses significant risks to human health, manifesting in both short- and long-term consequences.

“Long-term exposure can have serious health consequences, including abnormalities in the development of offspring, memory loss, reduced fertility and possible carcinogenic effects.”

He said that the sale of dichlorvos in small volumes (100 ml or less) had been prohibited since 2019, while the sale of large volumes (one liter) was left to certify agrochemical sales points.

Mrs Adeyeye said NAFDAC highlighted the toxicity of dichlorvos to human health and warned that its use can have fatal consequences.

Illegal practice

The statement also quotes the Director of Veterinary Medicine and Applied Products (VMAP), Rametu Momodu, as saying that the use of certain chemicals for food preservation is illegal.

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Ms Momodu said: “The use of certain chemicals, especially pesticides, to protect cereals and prevent beans from getting weevils is not an approved practice.

“There are pesticides approved for use as fumigants, which must be used according to the manufacturer’s specifications on the product label.”

He stressed that these products should not be applied directly to food due to their inherent dangers to human health.

Momodu further stated that eating food contaminated with snipers can cause dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, tremors and convulsions and in some cases can lead to coma and death.

He said that once used, pesticide residues remain on or in food, causing significant health implications.

He added that washing food does not stop the chemical effects, noting that the harmful substance would have already simmered in it.

He stressed that the agency cannot recommend laundering as a solution, saying doing so gives a false sense of security.

Alternatives, call to action

The Director General of NAFDAC pointed out that there are safer means of preserving food, such as biopesticides.

“Food that remains untouched for a long period of time may indicate pesticide contamination rather than freshness unless it is stored in the refrigerator,” he said.

Responding to a viral video of people using dangerous chemicals to preserve foods such as beans, dried fish and crayfish, he called on traders and traders to desist from using illegal chemicals in food intended for human consumption.

Ms Momodu further advised consumers to desist from purchasing from suppliers known to use such chemicals and report them to the nearest NAFDAC office for appropriate sanctions.

The government’s efforts

Apart from banning the 100ml bottle, Professor Adeyeye noted that the agency has implemented initiatives such as stakeholder sensitization meetings on restricting direct application of dichlorvos.

“Routine monitoring of stakeholders is also carried out to ensure compliance,” he said.

Mrs. Adeyeye reiterated NAFDAC’s commitment to global best practices, including the phasing out of certain pesticides that have been banned in other countries due to their proven toxicity.

He acknowledged the plight of farmers due to bans on various chemicals and emphasized the importance of following safer practices.

About chemistry

Dichlorvos, popularly known as sniper, is a chemical used to preserve beans, dried fish and crayfish.

The product, in small quantities (100 ml or less), has been prohibited since 2019, and its sale in large quantities (one liter) is restricted to certified agrochemical outlets.

Sniper use has been associated with serious health problems, including cancer, liver damage and death, and has been shown to have harmful effects on fertility and child development.

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