We decry the sale of beans preserved with Sniper, a dangerous substance that is capable of causing death, in some Nigerian markets and call on the government to halt further circulation of the poisoned beans. The news of the poisonous beans was circulated via a video clip that showed some vendors spraying the lethal chemical on beans.
Also, the circulation of contaminated beans in the country must be thoroughly investigated by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other relevant government agencies. All those behind the sale of the tainted beans must be arrested and prosecuted and anyone found guilty must be penalised. It is good that the Director-General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Dr. Babatunde Irukera, has warned consumers of the local staple to beware of contaminated beans currently being sold in some of the nation’s markets.
We also commend the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) for directing beans dealers to withdraw immediately all bean seeds preserved with Sniper from all markets in the country. It is equally good that the Coordinating Director of NAQS, Vincent Isegbe, has directed all beans dealers to stop using Sniper to preserve the produce. We recall that killer-beans had killed some Nigerians in 90s.
The beans in circulation were preserved with the toxic organophosphate called DDVP (2.2-dichlorovinyl dimenthyl phosphate) which is dangerous to health if misapplied. We commend the CPC for raising the alarm on the circulation of the tainted beans and urge the commission to continue to protect the rights of consumers. The CPC should work in concert with other relevant agencies of government to rid the country of unwholesome food products. We agree with the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, that the circulation of contaminated beans is “detrimental to human health and the environment.”
To forestall this in future, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has issued standards and codes of practice for beans and other grains from planting to the consumption table. In order to safeguard the health of the citizens, these codes should be enforced. Farmers and grains merchants must be enlightened on how to use these methods to preserve their grains without endangering the health of the consumers.
Those in agriculture extension services should take the lead in the enlightenment campaigns on the best ways to preserve grains. They should educate farmers on the use of fertilizers as well as pesticides. NAFDAC should mop up the contaminated beans still in circulation. It should also conduct test on samples of beans and other grains sold in Nigerian markets to determine their suitability for human consumption.
Consequently, the NAFDAC, CPC and SON should immediately restore order in the markets by impounding the contaminated products so far discovered. The National Orientation Agency (NOA) should enlighten the citizens on the dangers of eating poisoned beans. Beans farmers can deploy the old practice of storing beans in airtight containers as adequate preservation measure or use red dry peppers instead of poisonous pesticides as preservatives.
Agricultural experts advise that beans farmers or merchants can preserve cereals with hermetic storage methods which can be airtight structures that do not require the application of synthetic chemicals. Although chemicals can be used to preserve beans and other cereals, they must be used by experts. The problem in the country is that the chemicals are used indiscriminately by untrained individuals. Apart from beans, it has been reported that farmers use poisonous chemicals to preserve dry fish, maize and other cereals.
Also, it has been revealed that rural women use chemicals to ripen plantain, banana and mango. They must desist from using chemicals to ripen fruits in view of their adverse effects on the health of the consumers. Nigerians are, therefore, advised that all grains must be parboiled, decanted and washed before cooking to reduce the effects of the chemicals used in their preservation. Governments at all levels must ensure the safety of food items sold in Nigerian markets. NAFDAC and other relevant agencies must be strengthened to carry out their functions effectively.