A professor of Food Chemistry has raised the alarm on use of Potassium Bromate in the production of bread, saying bakers still use it. She called on the authorities to ensure better monitoring, as the use of bromate in baking bread is endangering the lives of consumers.
According to Professor Oladunni Akinnawo, while delivering the 9th inaugural lecture at Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, bromate is added to bread dough to strengthen it, increase loaf volume, and improve the texture without considering the health implication.
“The compound can cause sore throat, abdominal pains, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, kidney failure and heart failure,” she said.
She said studies had linked the compound to cancer in experimental animals and humans and has been classified as a potential carcinogen.
“In spite of the banning of its usage in Nigeria since 1993, recent study in Ibadan and Oyo towns indicated the use of potassium bromate in 72 per cent of the samples used, which shows that the compound is still in use,” she said.
The professor called on National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to intensify enlightenment and enforcement of the ban.
She talked about some practices in food preparation, saying they are generally harmful.
“Wrapping of local moin-moin in leaves, while cooking it is better than wrapping it in nylon or other contents. The leaves preserve the taste and make it more hygienic,” she said.
She advised Nigerians to diversify their food choices rather than being restricted to garri, fufu, amala and rice. “Nigeria is blessed with a large variety of food, about 70 crops that can serve as food items,” she said.
Akinnawo acknowledged that rice production had been on the rise in the country, such that government has banned its importation.
Said she: “This is a step in the right direction, but rice is not the only food that Nigerians eat and need. Just as the government is diversifying the economy, there is need to diversify crop species for production and consumption.
“Emphasis should be on producing more food crops like maize, yams, fruits, leafy fruits and vegetable. There is need to enlarge our food basket to increase most of crop species, a large variety of diets can be available to promote a good nutrition and encourage optimal health.”
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Rt. Rev. Professor Dapo Asaju, in his presentation, revealed the successful inauguration of Akinnaw’s chair as a professor of food Chemistry in the university.