Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said on Wednesday that in the course of routine monitoring operations, it found dead rats, cockroaches and other rodents in one of the bread factories in Abuja.
In addition to that, it said that some bakers use unclean water, cancer-causing agents and other bread improver substances, particularly potassium bromate, in order to maximise profit.
NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who disclosed the information at a sensitisation workshop for bread bakers in Abuja, said that the regulatory agency had strengthened its monitoring system to ensure strict compliance with minimum hygiene standards by bread bakers and makers of consumables.
NAFDAC FCT Director Clementina Anyakora, who represented the NAFDAC DG at the event, said the objective of the workshop was to expose the bakers to the illegal activities of their members, and also to encourage them to adhere to recommended operational standards, particularly in regards to hygiene.
“We often carry out routine visits to the bakeries in FCT to ascertain their level of compliance to standards. Recently, we realised that after post-certification, bakers become complacent particularly in hygiene.
“We noticed gross abuse of hygiene standards and lack of commitment to NAFDAC basic hygiene standards. While some factories turned their cloakrooms to bedrooms, others turned them to other purposes, contrary to the rules,” Anyakora said.
“In the raw material store of a particular baker, we found dead rats, their droppings, cockroaches and other rodents, an indication of poor pest control. In some other ones, we found out that the entire bakery facilities were swallowed by dirt.
“We also discovered that some still use potassium bromate, which is a cancer-causing agent, and other bread improver substances which are of health concern to us.”
She said that NAFDAC would soon take action and possibly make public the outcome of recent laboratory tests carried out in over 500 bakeries in Abuja, FCT.
Chairman of Master Makers, Ishaq Abdulraheem, in his remarks, admitted that some of his members run short of minimum hygiene standards as recommended by NAFDAC, but promised to improve the situation.
“I visited NAFDAC recently on behalf of members whose bakeries were shut for months. When NAFDAC showed me pictures they took from the bakery, I was dumbfounded,” he said.
“I saw pictures of rat droppings and even dead ones in the factory. The state of hygiene in the factory was poor. They use unclean water for the bread production. In fact, it wasn’t an environment worthy of producing food. I didn’t blame NAFDAC afterward.”
He however appealed to the Agency that, rather than sanctions and fines, it should rely more on corrective action and even forgiveness for erring bakeries.