The Federal Government has advised Nigerians to maintain adequate personal hygiene at all times to avoid food poisoning. MrnFubara Chuku, the Chairman, National Food Safety Management Committee (NFSMC), Fedearal Ministry of Health, gave the advice during a sensitisation visit to food handlers at Karu abattoir near Abuja.
Chuku stressed the need to wash the hands regularly especially after playing with animals, using the bathroom, touching a cut or open sore, sneezing, blowing of nose and coughing. He said there were some food toxins that could not be killed by just cooking the food, so Nigerians must be extremely careful of what they eat.
Mrs Stella Denloye, the Country Officer, Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), said thatmlong term chronic exposure to aflatoxin consumption could result in liver cancer, immune suppression and stunting in children. Denloye described aflatoxin as a natural poison produced when certain mold species grow in foods.
She added that exposure to high levels of Aflatoxin could be fatal. She noted that aflatoxins could contribute up to 30 per cent of all liver cancer globally with 40 per cent occurring in Africa. She warned that food could get contaminated during pre-harvest, harvesting, handling, storage, processing and transport stages of the chain, if conditions were unfavourable.
She mentioned foods like maize, peanuts, dried spices and tree nuts as the most likely foods to contain aflatoxin. She added that in livestock, aflatoxins could cause weight loss and death, while chickens fed with contaminated feed lay 70 per cent less eggs than those on normal diets. She however noted that aflatoxins were not destroyed during cooking or normal processing practices such as fermenting, boiling, cooking or baking. She therefore advocated for biological control and good agricultural practices, dietary diversification, good post-harvest practices and food regulations.