NIFST Ota Enlightens Public On Safe Street Food To Mark World Food Safety Day

By Ayo Ajayi

The Ota Zone of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, NIFST has carried out a street food safety campaign emphasising that food safety is everyone’s business.

EDUTORIAL report that the campaign carried out in conjunction with the Ota Branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers on Saturday, at Atan Market, Ota, Ogun State was to mark the 2024 World Food Safety Day. The theme of the event was, “Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected.”

Explaining the purpose of the event, the Coordinator of NIFST, Ota Zone, Dr. Edith Alagbe noted that the day and the event were to create awareness and enlighten both vendors and customers to deliberately contribute to safer street food practices and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses as well as to ensure a healthier eating experience.

“The vendors and the consumers alike were told to prepare the food in a safe environment and ensure they use the right condiment. They should not prepare food laden with pesticides and they should not sell food when they are sick.

“We also told them to know the source of their commodity and should not buy food for buying sake. For example, some people go for rotten tomatoes because they are cheap, but they forget that those rotten tomatoes have micro-organisms that are detrimental to their health. They say they would boil it but also forget that not all of them (micro-organisms) can be destroyed by heat. They contacted more than the nutrients they bargained for. So, they should know the source of their food,” she advised.

While welcoming the team, the Iyaloja-General, Atan Market, Chief (Mrs.) Adesola Isiyemi noted that food safety was paramount to good health.

Speaking in Yoruba, Isiyemi stated that though there is regular health education for the vendors in the market, the NIFST and NSE team introduced a new dimension to what they know.

“We usually educate our people, particularly the raw fish and meat sellers to cover their wares with net to prevent houseflies perching on them but I have not heard of where people cook meat with paracetamol. So, what they have come to tell us is good and we welcome them,” Isiyemi stated.

The NIFST and NSE team moved to different sections of the market advocating better preparation and preservation of street food like ‘akara’ (bean cake), ‘boli’ (roasted plantain) ‘suya’, roasted corn and yam among others.

They displayed placards with various inscriptions including, “Do not use paracetamol to cook meat,” “Do not use newspaper to package oily foods. Use plain paper,” “Wash your hands with soap and water before touching food,” “Sell your food items in a clean environment,” “Do not add colour to palm oil,” “ Do not put hot food in nylon,” and “Food safety is everybody’s business,” among others.

EDUTORIAL reports that World Food Safety Day is an annual event celebrated on the 7th of June. According to the World Health Organisation, one in 10 people worldwide fall ill from contaminated food each year, adding that over 200 diseases are caused by eating contaminated food.

The world health body noted that this year’s theme was to draw attention to food safety incidents and underline the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how mild or severe they could be.

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