The federal government has been advised to set the machinery in motion to regulating street food vending in the country, as it has become the major cause of food poisoning in the country and globally.
Professor of Food Technology at the Department of Food Science and Human Ecology at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Folake Henshaw, gave the advice at the Food Safety Enlightenment-Strategies for Safe and Wholesome Street Foods at the 43 Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) Day celebration held in Lagos.
According to her, over 600 million people suffer from food poisoning globally annually, adding that in Nigeria alone, about 2.4 million cases are reported.
Henshaw, however, regretted that there is high level under reportage of such incident especially in the rural area, hence the need for the various tiers of government to put the machinery in place to regulate the sector.
The professor said the sector cannot be completely banned since it contributes in no small way to poverty alleviation in the country.
She said consumption of street food in the country has been on the rise as a result of rapid urbanisation as it provides ready-to-eat food on the go, adding that because it is less expensive and sold where the people can easily access it, it has become the major part of urban food consumption system for millions of people.
Henshaw stressed that because of its informal nature which requires little startup and little or no regulation, it is the source of nourishment for millions of people especially in the urban areas.
According to her, over 7.4 million Nigerians are employed and engaged in the sector which is providing source of livelihood to many household.
However, she said in view of the hazards associated with street food trading, it has become imperative that the government should set up an agency to regulate the sector.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of NIFST, Mr. Sunday Bamgbose, said the theme of this year was chosen in line with the project on street food trading embarked upon by NIFST which has been adopted nationally.
According to Bamgbose, “Today, we all have opportunity of enhancing our knowledge on latest development in food safety. Not only as professionals in the field but also as consumers that require safe food in order to produce safe food for others.”