Recent discussions at the Gender and Inclusion Summit 2023 (GS-23) in Abuja unveiled a concerning statistic: more than 200,000 Nigerians lose their lives every year due to food poisoning, a revelation that has deeply troubled stakeholders.
During this event organized by the Policy Innovation Centre (PIC) of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Osenega Orokpo, a social media influencer and the wife of Apostle Michael Orokpo, highlighted the alarming prevalence of food poisoning in Nigeria and across Africa. She attributed this dire situation to unsafe food preparation, poor processing methods, and the absence of robust monitoring systems in the country’s food supply chains.
Stakeholders at the summit expressed grave concerns about unsafe practices leading to fatalities, such as the use of hazardous chemicals like sniper for agricultural commodity preservation, carbide for fruit ripening, meat tenderizing with paracetamol, formaldehyde for fish preservation, and poultry hormone injections.
Orokpo emphasized the urgent need for resilient food systems to combat the challenge of food poisoning. She stressed the importance of inclusive interventions, advocating for safety measures throughout every stage of the food supply chain. Highlighting that approximately 47 percent of food chain farmers are women, she underscored the necessity of women’s inclusion in addressing this issue.
NESG Policy and Innovation Centre Chairman, Mr. Udeme Ufot, highlighted the summit’s purpose as a platform for diverse stakeholders to devise contextually relevant solutions, fostering collective commitment to building a gender-inclusive society.
Eva Edwards from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) emphasized that food-borne diseases disproportionately affect vulnerable groups like infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals. She highlighted the dangers posed by agrochemical usage in food preservation.
NAFDAC’s Director General, Prof Moji Adeyeye, launched campaigns against harmful practices such as fruit ripening with calcium carbide, stressing the health risks, including cancer and organ failure.
Food science and nutrition experts, Jennifer Egbo and Chinonso Ezenwako, stressed the necessity of awareness, proper training, and governmental involvement in regulating food processing to combat the prevalent issue of food poisoning.
Various concerned individuals, including Dr. Pogu Bitrus and Alhaji Yerima Shettima, expressed concerns about modern farming techniques, inadequate regulation, and the need for stringent measures to ensure food safety.
Dr. Uche Okenyi from Hova’s Place Hospital highlighted causes of food poisoning, emphasizing the need for education, awareness, and healthcare investment to mitigate this critical issue.