By Aderogba George
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has vowed to enforce Good Hygiene Practices (GHP) in bread processing in the country.
This is contained in a statement by the agency’s resident media consultant, Mr Olusayo Akintola, on Sunday in Abuja.
The statement disclosed that NAFDAC’s Director-General (DG), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, made this known during her meeting with members of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter.
Represented by Mrs Eva Edwards, the agency’s Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN), Adeyeye said the move would encourage the association’s special task force to rid the industry of unwholesome practices.
She urged members of the association and other confectionery stakeholders to always imbibe the culture of GHP for the benefit of the public.
The DG said that the agency would not compromise the quality of bread, a staple food among Nigerians.
She noted that the agency was sensitive to the increasing costs of ingredients in production, but said this should not be an excuse to undermine safety, quality and endanger the lives of consumers.
‘’You should have full confidence to give your family members what you have produced to eat. Avoid using expired raw materials and contaminated packaging materials.
“The overall objective of GHP in the food processing sector, including bakeries, quick service restaurants, is to ensure the safety of food from the starting materials to the final products.
“GHP must be strictly adhered to from the beginning to the end of the production process, as finished products should not be exposed to the ravaging onslaught of rats and other pests in the Lagos metropolis. ‘
“Food raw materials/ingredients that are not properly sealed, compromised packaging, infested by rodents or their droppings, or not adequately labelled, should not be used.
‘’Detergents, disinfectants, engine oil/lubricants should be kept away from food raw materials. If baking operations will endanger the health of the public, then the agency will not hesitate to take a decisive action.
“As a responsive agency, NAFDAC is prepared to support the association’s businesses to survive and thrive,” Adeyeye said.
She further stressed that production facilities should not be sited in locations that can compromise the safety and quality of the finished products, such as near a cemetery or directly opposite a toilet or soakaway.
According to her, there is no way the agency will stand aloof while the health of the public is put at a risk.
She further said that equipment used in production should be impervious and not erode or react with the food during processing.
Adeyeye said that the equipment should be properly installed and arranged to enable easy cleaning of the immediate environment, and allow for free movement of personnel.
She maintained that vehicles used for transportation of chemicals, or any hazardous materials should not be used to transport bread, and that finished products should be adequately protected from contamination.
According to her, medical tests should be conducted periodically to ensure that the personnel producing the food are healthy and do not have diseases that could be transmitted through food.
She said that food handlers are also not expected to work with open wounds; ‘’when they are ill, they should be excused from work.”
She said that the principles of food safety and GHP should be adopted and maintained in any food production or processing facility.
The NAFDAC boss advised the Master Bakers on the need for proper labelling of their products, which includes listing of the ingredients contained in the finished products.
She disclosed that the ingredients that weigh the most are listed first, while emphasising the importance of indicating date markings on the labels so that the consumers are properly informed accordingly.
The statement also quoted the Acting Chairman of the association, Lagos State Chapter, Mr Matthew Ayoola, as commending the initiative of NAFDAC by engaging his members on the way forward with their businesses.
He pledged that his members would use the knowledge imparted on them at the engagement to further enhance the quality of their products in the State.
Ayoola, however, disclosed that his association had set up a task force with a view to bringing forward any recalcitrant member to NAFDAC for necessary guidance towards compliance with the regulations, and sanctions. (NAN)