By Maureen Ikpeama
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has cautioned bakers who use potassium bromate as improvers, saying it is dangerous to health.
The Agency said that as part of its efforts to curb the menace of importation, sales and distribution of counterfeit/fake regulated products and ensuring that only wholesome, safe, quality and efficacious products are imported, manufactured, distributed, sold and used by the Nigerians, it has stepped up efforts to raid defaulters.
The Acting Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr Monica Eimunjeze, in Lagos on Tuesday, explained that potassium bromate is a banned flour improver, a known cancer-causing agent and has been found to cause kidney failure among other ailments.
“Potassium bromate, popularly known as tablets in the black economy, is always attractive to merchants of death who want to make outrageous profit at the expense of citizens’ wellbeing.
“Bakers use potassium bromate because it helps to improve the texture of bread as well as increases its volume and it is relatively cheap.
“NAFDAC wishes to state that there are recommended healthy flour improvers approved by the Agency.’’
She disclosed that NAFDAC reprimanded offenders, saying , operatives of NAFDAC raided and arrested suspects in connection with various fraudulent activities.
“A warehouse containing potassium bromate tablets and unregistered imported EDC – 2000 Bread Improve was raided by NAFDAC operatives on Dec. 7, 2022.
“ NAFDAC officers raided the warehouse located in Apongbon area of Lagos Island in Lagos where they found 115 cartons of potassium bromate tablets.
“The tablets have a street value of twenty eight million seven hundred and fifty thousand naira (N28,750,000:00).
“The seized tablets could be used with three hundred thousand (300,000) bags of 50kg flour to produce about thirty (30) million family-sized loaves of bread.
“Also found in the warehouse were counterfeit EDC Bread Improver, packed in sachets with a fake NAFDAC registration number 01-4242, worth three hundred thousand naira (N300,000:00).
“One Rapoluchukwu Joseph was arrested as the importer during the operation.’’
She explained that apart from improving the texture of a loaf, potassium bromate also increases its volume and it is relatively cheap.
Ejimunjeze said that other counterfeit products found in the warehouse included 400 cartons of counterfeit super delicious cooking margarine with fake NAFDAC registration number:- (a1-2508) and Manufactured date:- 25/01/2022, Expiry date:- 25/01/2024 with various batch numbers.
She disclosed that NAFDAC had since Sept. 9, 2022, commenced an investigation which led its operatives to a long span of operations at states including Kano, Kaduna, Delta, Abia and Lagos States.
“After rigorous and painstaking efforts, the Agency’s operatives traced and arrested one Owerekwe Obinna Michael ‘male’ 46 years of 12 Boundary Street, Aba, Abia State as the importer of the counterfeit product.
“At the point of his arrest, the suspect upon sighting the operatives completely destroyed his mobile phone so that the evidence will not be traced to him. He also fought the operatives but was instantly overpowered, arrested and taken into custody.
“He confirmed that he actually imported four hundred (400) cartons of the product with the above details from Dubai through groupage and cleared at One Port, Port Harcourt.
“He claimed that the shipment was delivered to him by a clearing Agent, whose name he did not yet disclose He also admitted to distributing the product to markets across the country.
“Preliminary examination of the product showed that the actual manufacturer’s name was not written, but produced for a company in Indonesia.”
Ejimunjeze urged Nigerians to watch out for these injurious products anywhere in the country and report same or any suspected fake/counterfeit or unwholesome product to any nearest NAFDAC Office.