Millions of people have been put at risk as food sellers across Africa use toxic chemicals to improve the look of foods example meat, fish and fruits . There is little oversight from traders due to the weak government testing capacity in Africa.
In the fish business, it has been reported that a toxic insecticide know as Gamalin is used by pouring it into water while fishing. After a few minutes all aquatic forms of life in the area will die and come to the surface and that is when the fish are gathered,said Serge-Claire Nkolo a veteran and surgeon in Cameroon.
Other fish traders go to the extend of using leftover fabric from tailors to smoke fish instead of using firewood. Formalin a notoriously used chemical used to preserve meat and milk has been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a “probable human carcinogen” that causes leukemia and cancers of the nasal cavity.
Fruit and vegetables
There are chemicals that are permitted for use in vegetables but in moderation. Phytosanitary products are used by vendors to quicken the ripening process and to make the products seem to appear as being perfectly ripe.A senior agricultural technician explains this method in the cultivation of pineapple.
He says that the plant growth regulator known as ethrel is used in dosages in its application. “Ethrel is used while the fruit is still on the stalk, when it is already ripe before it is picked. The aim is to get them to take on a yellowish hue because some clients especially overseas clients believe a pineapple is not ripe if it isn’t yellow”,he said.
Traders use the fruit ripening technique but exceed in dosages that are beyond the recommendation causing danger to the consumers.Most traders care about the shelf life of their products and not the quality and safety of their products. The abuse of science by using approved chemicals in excess dosage has led to the lose of lives among people in Africa.
Overuse of ethrel especially in bananas can be corrosive leading to diseases such as stomach cancer. The government of Kenya under the Ministry of Health and and agriculture began planning the National Food Safety Authority over an increased number of the use of food additives over the past four years.