FG Laments Economic Loss Due to Mycotoxins -induced Diseases in Food Products

The Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar
  • To partner health professionals for environment protection

By Udora Orizu

The Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar has expressed worries over the high economic loss it said the country was incurring due to diseases induced by mycotoxins in the country’s food products.

Speaking in Abuja, at a two-day sensitization workshop on the prevention of Mycotoxins in food and environment, the Minister said controlling mycotoxins which are largely preventive, entails good agricultural practice and sufficient post-harvest drying of crops.

Abubakar stressed that there was the need to prioritize mycotoxin control through the use of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) concepts following an Integrated management approach for pre-harvest, harvesting, post-harvest, storage and processing of food and cash crops.

He said the ministry is strongly advocating for an effective Mycotoxin Testing Programme using rapid testing technology with potential for scaling up to laboratory-based methods.

He said, ”The common occurrence and extensive growth of moulds in homes, schools, offices and especially on food and food products poses a great risk to human survival,” he said, adding that:” The low level of knowledge by the public about these moulds and the effects of the metabolites they produce is of great concern and needs to be promptly addressed.”

”Exposure to moulds and their toxic mycotoxins and other metabolites in food and environment has been associated with disorders of the respiratory and central nervous systems to mention but a few. We must, as a country, be worried about the risk of environmental exposures experienced by those that consume or are exposed to food and food products contaminated with mycotoxins.

”As has been well established, the exposure of human and animal to mycotoxin is both chronic (cancer induction, kidney toxicity, immune suppression) and acute (turkey X syndrome, human ergotism, etc). The ingestion of mycotoxin through food and inhalation of mycotoxins and other contaminants in the air might result in lung damage, allergic reactions such as irritation in the respiratory tract, eyes, and skin, and sometimes headaches. Exposure to all these contaminants could have harmful effects on vital organs and consequently on the overall human health and productivity.”

Meanwhile, the minister during his investiture by Society for Environmental Public Health Organisation of Nigeria (SEPHON) on Thursday, said that the ministry will be partnering with the Organisation for effective protection of environment across the country.

The minister, who was decorated as a foundation fellow of SEPHON, assured the organisation of good working relationship to promote and protect the environment in the country.

Earlier, the President of SEPHON, Prof. Agwu Amadi said the organisation had been looking forward to visiting the minister, adding that the gathering is a great event to the entire SEPHON members.