By Olisemeka Obeche
The federal government has expressed displeasure at the use of 2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate (DDVP compound), popularly known as ‘sniper’ to preserve beans by retailers, stressing that use of chemicals for food preservation and fruit ripening was unhealthy.
The minister of agriculture and rural development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, told newsmen in Otukpo, Benue state on yesterday that the practice was detrimental to human health and the environment.
“Sniper is very dangerous. People also use carbide to ripen bananas and some other fruits. People do all kinds of things. Suddenly, people are developing different diseases, something is wrong,’’ he said.
The minister who appealed to foodstuff and fruit sellers and others Nigerians to adopt natural means of preservation, stressed that the ministry would collaborate with the National Orientation Agency to create more awareness on the need for citizens not to use chemicals for food preservation and fruit ripening.
Hear him: “We appeal that they use natural means such as pepper to prevent weevils in beans instead of sniper. We hear this and we send people to warn them but the ministry cannot catch everybody. We are going to use the National Orientation Agency and state ministries of agriculture to create awareness on the need for people to desist from these acts. We just have to keep educating people,” he said.
The National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has also warned citizens against eating and buying foodstuffs and fruits preserved or ripened with chemicals. NAFDAC also advised that sale of grains or beans suspected to be preserved with chemicals be reported to the agency.
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC), last Friday, issued a public statement urging consumers to extensively parboil beans before consumption as a precautionary measure for such hazardous preservation methods.
CPC’s director general, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, who signed the statement, also urged consumers to make sufficient enquiries before buying beans as well as wash them thoroughly before cooking. Thorough washing of food items before consumption or preparation for consumption is a generally accepted method of protecting and promoting safety”, it stressed.
According to Irukera, sniper is potentially injurious when human beings are unduly exposed to it by inhalation, absorption, direct skin contact or ingestion.