Ask Nigeria Header Logo

How to tackle food poisoning in Nigeria

Photo of author

By Abraham Adekunle

A detailed approach to ensure safe eating across the country.

In Nigeria, the act of sharing a meal is not just a mundane task but a cherished tradition woven into the fabric of society. However, beneath the surface of this culinary joy lies a lurking menace – food poisoning, often stemming from chemical contamination. Our traditional cuisine, rich in flavour and diversity, can swiftly turn from a source of delight to a potential health hazard. Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women, whose unborn babies face the insidious threat of toxins infiltrating their systems through contaminated foods. The state of Nigeria’s food system is alarming, ranking among the most unsafe and neglected public health concerns according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Microbial and chemical poisoning of our food presents a formidable challenge, with far-reaching implications for public health. A recent study conducted by the University of Ibadan revealed alarming statistics: over 50 percent of pregnant women in some rural areas had detectable levels of pesticides in their bloodstreams. Furthermore, research and advocacy efforts by organizations like the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shed light on the pervasive effects of chemical poisoning and its associated health risks. While improper food handling practices create breeding grounds for hazardous bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, it is the insidious infiltration of chemical contaminants that poses a different yet equally significant threat. Chemical pollutants find their way into the food chain through various avenues, with pesticide residues on produce being a prominent source.

Chemical pollutants threaten food safety in the country.

Industrial activities contribute to the problem as heavy metals like lead, chromium, and arsenic contaminate soil and water, ultimately entering the food chain and wreaking havoc on vital organs such as the kidneys and liver. Of particular concern is the reckless use of pesticides, which leaves behind residue on fruits and vegetables, potentially impacting the nervous and endocrine systems of consumers. The presence of toxins in grains raises serious concerns about cancer risks, highlighting the unseen dangers lurking within our food supply. Addressing food poisoning in Nigeria requires a concerted and multifaceted approach. It is a longstanding issue that demands renewed commitment and proactive measures from all stakeholders.

Key questions arise. Who is responsible for monitoring the presence of chemicals like aflatoxins in roasted groundnuts and corn? Who ensures the measurement of pesticide residues and heavy metals in various food items? The answer lies with regulatory agencies such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Furthermore, oversight of waste disposal from industrial and mining activities is essential to prevent contamination of the food chain. Household chemical exposure must also be regulated and monitored to mitigate risks to public health. The government plays a pivotal role in building a safer food system for its citizens. This includes educating farmers on safe agricultural practices, promoting organic farming methods, and implementing measures to ensure proper storage and transportation of food items.

Collaborative efforts vital in strengthening food safety in Nigeria.

Public awareness campaigns are crucial in fostering a culture of food safety, while the introduction and enforcement of stricter food safety regulations are imperative to safeguarding public health. However, the journey towards a safe and healthy food system in Nigeria cannot be undertaken by the government alone. It requires the collective efforts of farmers, consumers, lawmakers, and healthcare experts. By working together, we can ensure that every meal consumed in Nigeria provides sustenance rather than posing a threat to health. It is only through collaborative action and unwavering commitment that we can overcome the scourge of food poisoning and create a safer future for all. Additionally, to tackle food poisoning effectively, it’s essential to strengthen regulatory oversight. This involves enhancing the capacity and resources of regulatory agencies like NAFDAC to conduct regular inspections and enforce food safety standards.

Moreover, implementing comprehensive monitoring programs to track chemical residues in food products across the supply chain is crucial. Strict penalties for non-compliance with food safety regulations should be established to deter irresponsible practices. Promoting sustainable agricultural practices is another vital aspect of combating food poisoning. This includes providing training and support to farmers on integrated pest management techniques to reduce reliance on chemical pesticides. Encouraging the adoption of organic farming methods can also minimize chemical usage and promote environmental sustainability. Furthermore, investing in research and innovation is essential to stay ahead of emerging threats and develop effective solutions for food safety challenges.

Related Article: Over 200k die of food poisoning every year 

By allocating resources for scientific research, we can better understand the sources and pathways of chemical contamination in the food chain. Supporting innovation in food testing technologies will enable rapid detection and analysis of chemical residues in food products, ensuring timely interventions to protect public health. Enhancing public awareness and education is paramount to empower consumers with knowledge and promote safe food practices. Launching nationwide campaigns to educate consumers about the risks of chemical contamination in food and how to minimize exposure is essential. Integrating food safety education into school curricula can instill lifelong habits of safe food handling and consumption from a young age. Collaborating with community leaders and local organizations to disseminate information about food safety practices through grassroots initiatives will further reinforce public awareness and engagement.

Related Link

Wikipedia: Website

The content on is given for general information only and does not constitute a professional opinion, and users should seek their own legal/professional advice. There is data available online that lists details, facts and further information not listed in this post, please complete your own investigation into these matters and reach your own conclusion. accepts no responsibility for losses from any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of content contained in this website and/or other websites which may be linked to this website.

Fact Checking Tool -