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E-coli responsible for Kano food poisoning, says NAFDAC

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control says that E-coli was found in the samples of foods that sickened about 200 persons in Kano last month, resulting in the death of at least three of the victims.

Escherichia coli, also known as E-coli, is a type of bacteria that normally lives in the intestines. It’s also found in the gut of some animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless and even help keep the digestive tract healthy. But some strains can cause diarrhea if one  eats contaminated food or drink fouled water.

The agency said it has apprehended those suspected as being responsible for the dangerous chemicals used in food and drinks that killed at least three people in Kano.

The three died after consuming adulterated flavoured drinks.

The agency’s Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made this known in a statement issued by the NAFDAC Resident Media Consultant, Mr. Olusayo Akintola, on Sunday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that three people died in Kano in March after consuming flavored drink, allegedly containing some chemical additives.

The NAFDAC chief, therefore, warned against adding chemicals or additives to food and drinks to enhance taste, stressing that such practice could result to severe illness and even death.

Adeyeye said that preliminary result of the agency’s investigation of the victims was submitted to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State during her two-day visit to the state to assess the incident.

Speaking on the issue, Adeyeye said, “It was heartwarming that merchants of the deadly chemicals and additives had been apprehended, while further investigation continued;” noting that when dangerous foreign elements find their way into foods and water, they becomes poisonous rather than being nutritious.

She pointed out that food contamination and poisoning could occur through consumption of expired food or preparing food with poorly sourced water and putting cooked food on the shelf for several days or months.

“We are very particular about food additives, about the temperature at which food can be kept, or about the expiration date of food. If all of these are violated, then there can be food poisoning.

“Whether it is food or water, adding chemicals and other substances either to enhance the food or change its form can be dangerous, especially when we can’t verify the source and content of such additives.

“NAFDAC is now working assiduously in partnership with the Kano State Government, with a view to preventing recurrence of the March 11 incident,” the DG said.

Adeyeye added that the agency would be working with the Kano State Task force under the Federal Task Force on Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods, as well as the Consumers Protection Agency in Kano to check the menace.

She recalled that shortly after the news of the deaths was received, six directorates of the agency swung into action to unravel the mystery behind the sad event and found that only two of the five flavoured drinks identified in the incidence were registered by NAFDAC.
She said that the three others were not in the agency’s database.

“We tested all the food samples and there was E-coli bacteria in some; one would wonder how E-coli bacteria would get into powder. It depends on the storage.

“If it is stored in a very humid condition, and expired, the packaging probably was getting compromised, you can get bacteria into dry powdered medium, but ordinarily, it shouldn’t happen,” she said.

She warned that chemicals must not be added to food because chemicals kill very fast.

“To use chemical to make food or drink sour or sweet, you may never know what you are adding.

“The only regulated additives are sugar, saccharin and sweetening; and there are prescribed amounts to put in food.

“These regulated products are inside the food and not something you sprinkle on the food like what happened in Kano,” she added.

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