The Federal Government on Thursday embarked on sensitisation of Nigerians on prevention and control of mycotoxins in food and environment to promote their well-being.
Speaking at a two-day sensitisation workshop in Abuja, Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar said the exercise was as a result of low level of knowledge by the public on effect of mycotoxins in food and environment.
Abubakar said that mycotoxin was a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus kingdom, adding that it was capable of causing diseases and death in both humans and animals.
He said that molds and the effect of metabolites mycotoxins produced was of great concern and needed to be promptly addressed.
“These, require concerted efforts of both the ministries of Environment and that of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“I want to as well affirm the need to prioritise mycotoxin control through the use of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points Concepts,” Abubakar said.
He said that the ministry was strongly advocating for an effective Mycotoxin testing programme using rapid testing technology with potential for scaling up to laboratory-based methods.
Abubakar said that the Food and Agriculture Organisation asserted that more than one-quarter of the world’s agricultural produce was contaminated with Mycotoxins.
The minister said that the common occurrence and extensive growth of molds in homes, schools, offices and especially on food and food products posed great risk to human survival.
“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 and acute.
“The ingestion of mycotoxin through food and inhalation of mycotoxins and other contaminants in the air might result in lung damage and allergic reactions such as irritation in the respiratory tract, eyes, and skin.
“Exposure to all these contaminants could have harmful effects on vital organs and consequently on the overall human health and productivity.
“There is high economic loss due to diseases induced by mycotoxins and the continuous rejection of Nigerian food products in the international market.
“Molds are perhaps the most pressing food quality problems in environments because many of our food and food products are moist organic materials which are subjected to poor methods of food handling and storage.
“Also worrisome is the dense nature of our population where buildings are more likely to harbor high levels of molds,’’ Abubakar said. (NAN)