NAFDAC has revealed that unscrupulous Asian and Nigerian importers have been dumping substandard tomato pastes manufactured in China into Nigeria.
At a recent consultative meeting held between the top echelon of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and control (NAFDAC) and packaged tomato paste top importers, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, revealed that after a recent survey of 85 tomato paste brands sold in various markets across the country, those imported from China were clearly below international and Nigerian standards and specifications.
The cheery news however is that local tomato paste brands were confirmed to meet the required safety and nutritional standards as NAFDAC has always made regular unscheduled inspections at their various production facilities in the country.
The damning report revealed that 91.1 per cent of the brands studied failed the NAFDAC test with virtually all the packaged brands from China being the culprits.
In a frightening dimension officials of the Agency observed that most of the China-made brands contained far less than the required quantity of tomato concentrate. They were rather filled with bulking agents such as starch and then infused with banned colouring which could cause cancer and lead to organ failure.
This may in fact be responsible for the increase in Kidney and Liver-related ailments among young and middle-aged Nigerians across the country, NAFDAC has in the meantime commenced a massive recall effort to mop up the affected brands and go after the respective organisations and individuals involved in the gross inhuman dealing.
Further investigations revealed that the motivating factor for selling starch, coated in dangerous colouring, in the name of tomato paste to unwitting Nigerian consumers is greed as some of the tomato concentrate meant for one container load of tomato paste could be used to make as much as five to ten containers and then sell at very low prices to lure unsuspecting consumers.
While the importers are smiling to the banks, Nigerians are rushing to hospitals and early graves due to their unmitigated greed.
While the starch is a clear danger to diabetics, the banned coloring are said to be carcinogenic that is cancer-causing.
Meanwhile, the respective substandard tomato pastes cannot be sold in China as well as the European Union, US and rest of the civilized world where coloring of all kinds and bulking agents like starch are banned.
NAFDAC has, however, warned the importers that the game is over as it has set up special food laboratories in key cities of the country to do regular checks of food samples in the markets in all states and prosecute any food fraud offender.
Some of the importers however feigned ignorance of the dangers posed by the coloring as they claim that the unnaturally coloured pastes are what Nigerian consumers prefer because it makes their cooking red and attractive.