By Uche Amunike
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has censored in very strong terms, the use of a product known as Formalin to preserve frozen chicken, meat, or fish by traders in Nigerian markets.
Formalin is a highly concentrated chemical substance that is used to preserve dead bodies in morgues and also specimens of dead animals in science laboratories.
During her sensitization campaign held in Onitsha, Anambra state, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Christiana Adeyeye made the condemnation with the strict warning about the substance being highly toxic, carcinogenic and dangerous.
She was represented by the Director of Narcotics and Controlled Substances, Dr Musa Umar and went on to explain that the substance, Formalin is the chemical used for embalming and preserving corpses in the morgue to avoid decomposition.
During her speech at the campaigns, Prof Adeyeye decried the dangerous practice of using the highly toxic chemical substance for preservation of consumables and alerted the public to watch out for frozen foods and other meat products in particular, which are usually smuggled into the country through illegal routes because the Formalin is what is used to preserve them until they are sold to consumers.
She stated that poultry products have since been banned from being imported into the country and yet, some unscrupulous traders still indulge and smuggling them from neighbouring countries. This, according to her is why they avoid the normal routes and take the illegal routes to avoid being apprehended.
This, she said, was the reason why a journey that should ordinarily take them one day will end up taking about four days and because they pass through bush paths where there are no storage facilities for preservation, they resort to using Formalin in order to preserve them. That way, it will not rot before they get to the market 3 days after.
She added that the danger associated with consuming Formalin has long been discovered by NAFDAC and called on the general public, including traditional institutions and community leaders to add their voices to that of the agency in the campaign of educating and sensitizing the people of Nigeria.
She maintained that it is a collective call for Nigerians to assist NAFDAC at this time, in fighting this menace and also to stay vigilant and focused at this time.
NAFDAC, she said, is doing their best to see that people avoid being a part of such practices as it will not only threaten the health condition of our people but also be a major disservice to humanity.
Recall that the reason for the sensitization campaign is that it significantly helps to support the federal government’s concerted efforts to inform, alert, sensitize and educate the general public on the dangers of using such spurious and regulated products.
Formalin is a dangerous substance commonly used as an industrial disinfectant and preservative in morgues and medical laboratories. It is also said to be used as a preservative in some foods and in products like cosmetics, antiseptics and medicines. When it is present in the air, it makes people experience adverse effects like watery eyes and burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat. It’s also triggers coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation. It also causes cancer.