On NAFDAC’s drive for healthy bread

breadCONDUCT any survey any day, any time of Nigerians’ preferred staple food and you will be shocked bread will top the list! Although the preparation and consumption of this high wheat content flour meal are undoubtedly ancient and global, the broadness of its acceptance as a befitting consumable is indeed due to its human body nourishing status having been globally certified by acclaimed food scientists and nutritionists as dependable source of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, iron and calcium.

This fact is not lost on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria’s institution charged with the regulation and control of pharmaceutical products and food.

It is little wonder that recently it embarked on another step up action in many parts of the country on bread safety, through its Bread Quality Initiative.

It is the Agency’s way of bringing to bear acceptable sanity, standards, as well as hygienic and good manufacturing practices in its production. Over 500 bakeries in Lagos State, for example, made their bread available for the test during the exercise.

The uncommon penchant of Dr. Paul Orhii, the Director General of NAFDAC, for safe bread is equally fuelled by his realisation that the bakery industry in the country remains big source of employment for many Nigerians and serves also as revenue earner for the government, especially at the state and local levels. So, the recent step-up action nationwide, a follow up to several other initiatives, focused on-the-spot bread for the detection of the banned potassium bromate (removed from the list of bread improvers by the World Health Organisation in 1992) and other harmful bread improvers. NAFDAC has consistently emphasized to bakers and flour millers the deleterious effects of potassium bromate, a deadly carcinogenic improver, which has also been proved by experts to degrade Vitamins A2, B1, B2, E and Niacin, the main vitamins available in bread.

Deployment of effective communication media and capacity building count among the measures adopted by the agency to realise its objectives, and they include introduction and sustenance of inter-state consumers and bakers enlightenment; regular work/talk shops for the bakers; robust training for existing and would-be bakers; and certification of products with appropriate labels and authorisation. Others are unscheduled inspection of baking facilities, acquainting bakers with modern production trends and practices, and engaging the press on ways and means of ensuring maximum public enlightenment.

Deterring measures adopted by NAFDAC include closure of illegal and substandard production plants; mopping up bad products from sales outlets; ensuring that amateur bakers are cut out from the business; comprehensive product registration; entrenched sustainable feedback mechanism for the resolution of consumer complaints; bringing together the bakers through unionisation like the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria for ease of coordination, control and regulation.

Moreover, NAFDAC, has through intensive research, come up with healthier and internationally acceptable baking inputs for use in production. They include Morphan 500 of Morrison Industries PLC; EDC 95 Dough of Edlen International Incorporated USA; EDC 2000 (an improvement on EDC Dough Oxidant) of the same firm; Bake Rite of Chellarams PLC; and Puratos S500 (blue bread improver) of Purators W-V/SA Industraialaan Belgium. Others are Painforce concentrated bread improver of Ducros SS84200 France; Vahiforce of the same firm; and ALL GREEN bread improver of Florum Limited Israel.

Also certified by the agency are DYNAMIL of S.I LESAFFRE of France; UNIPAN super bread improver of DSM bakery ingredients MIJL WEG of Netherland; ALPHAMALT BXT of Myhlenchemeie, GM BH RERRCAMP of Ahansbury; AMIPAN of ICA Food ingredients by Kalshovenza Industry of Netherland; ANGEL of Angel Yeast Company Limited China; PANOK SUPPER BAKE bread improver of BONS Industries Limited; SUPREME LONG LIFE of Crown Flower Mills; SUPREME MAXI and SUPREME SPECIAL of the same.

Others are Betta Baker (20Kg carton) of First Blends Limited; Betta Baker (10g sachet) of the same company; BRAMMCO Power Integrated Dough Improver of Networking Africa Limited; PB of Pacific Biscuit Manufacturing Nigeria Limited, VITARISE of Vitachem Nigeria Limited, NPB Bakery improver of Associated Biotechnology Limited; FLOMOD Flour Additive of First Blends Limited; BETTA BAKER bread premix of First blends Limited; LGM 22T tablet bread improver of Lemmy’s Global MT Nigeria Limited; and PROSON block bread improver of IFART Limited.

To avail the nation of consumable processed food, the agency ensured that decent and standardised production and hygienic practices were adopted and fully embraced by fast food service (eatery) operators, while bakers/bakeries were successfully compelled to desist from anti-human health sustaining practices such as avoiding the usage of deadly carcinogenic Potassium Bromate as dough enhancer.

Consistently hosting of consultative fora with stakeholders, advocacy visits to states’ chief executives, traditional rulers, youth leaders, inclusion of food safety education in school curricula, the NYSC community development service programme, modification and sustenance of its consumers’ safety programme are direct and indirect ways by the Agency to serve the nation and Nigerians better. They conform with the global strategy of emphasising preventive and not reactive approach to safeguarding the safety of foods.

The Association of Master Bakers and Confectioners of Nigeria and other stakeholders must work with NAFDAC to ensure that Nigerians can conveniently and confidently access hygienic and nutritious “Bread of Life” rather than unhygienic and contaminated “Bread of Death.”

• Ikhilae, a Lagos-based public affairs analyst, wrote via martinsikhilae@ymail.com

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