Posted by Olutaller Akinwole

On November 14, 2018

The Nigerian Institute of Food Science & Technology, NIFST, incorporated in Nigeria
with over 12,000 members spreads across the food & allied industries, academia,
research & development, Policy formulation (MDA) and regulatory agencies across the
states in Nigeria.

We have read, through the formal and informal media in Nigeria, of the alleged potent
threat of food poisoning through sales of chemical contaminated beans. This potential
threat is evidenced by the practice, from the retail trade, where Sniper is used as a weevil
repellant/killer in beans. The social media, showed video of its actual use, while there
was a report from the Print media of arrests of suspects caught in the act.

Sniper is one of the most widely used brands of pesticides in Nigeria because of its
effectiveness in controlling pests, especially insects and reptiles. Sniper belongs to the
organophosphate family of pesticides containing DDVP (2.2 -dichlorovinyl dimethyl
phosphate) as active ingredient. It is highly toxic and used mainly as fumigants for
outdoor purposes. However, because it is readily available and affordable, Sniper has
become the most widely abused pesticide in the recent past. It is used by both farmers
and traders at pre-and post-harvest storage including open markets to control insect
infestation in foods especially beans, oil seeds and similar grains.

The use of Sniper in food storage raises very serious food safety concerns. Its residues
endanger the health of consumers and contribute to loss of consumer confidence in the
food supply chain, thus impacting negatively on food trade. DDVP has both short and
long-term health consequences. Short-term exposure to DDVP associated with
consumption of foods preserved with Sniper may come with symptoms such as:
weaknesses, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, abdominal cramps, etc. with varying
consequences ranging from minor discomforts to hospitalization. There may also be
chronic consequences arising from long-term exposure causing organ failure, cancer or
even death. Economically, the use of Sniper for food preservation is a practice that is
unacceptable to both local and international regulations and standards, contributing
significantly to the poor consumer confidence and competitiveness of Nigerian
agricultural produce at International markets. You will recall that beans from Nigeria
have remained banned from entry to European markets for the past three years, while
other crops such as vegetables, oilseeds and related food products are regularly denied
entry into the international markets due to excessive DDVP residues. This is a huge
economic loss to Nigeria, its farmers, exporters and related entrepreneurs.

The Government through the food regulatory agencies at Federal, States and the LGAs
should be more pro-active in developing and implementing strategies that will arrest the
use of Snipers and other related poor practices urgently. As a major player in the food
value-chain, NIFST is concerned about this potential harmful use of Sniper and other
unfair trade practices being carried out by some stakeholders across the food supply chain
that can endanger the health of the consumers and the public in general. NIFST has
therefore directed its Chapters across the country to engage the various government
agencies and other critical stakeholders in sustained campaign activities to sensitize the
public on the dangers in the use of harmful pesticides for food preservation.

NIFST is therefore urging the Federal Government to implement a tighter control on
unrestricted chemicals in circulation in Nigeria. More due diligence should be applied to
the importation, storage, distribution and sales of these chemicals in Nigeria. Current
practices whereby chemicals are sold, over the counter, especially by untrained/
uncertified merchants should be reviewed by the responsible statutory body.

Our vision is to have good and abundant food for all through service to humanity and
country resulting to food security and well being of Nigerians.

Mr. E. Oluwole Toye FNIFST
National President