A professor of Food Chemistry has said that, in spite of ban in the use of Potassium Bromate in the production of bread, bakers still use the harmful chemical in baking bread.  She has called on the authorities to ensure better monitoring of the ban because the use of bromate in baking bread is endangering the lives of consumers. Professor Oladunni Akinnawo stated this while delivering the 9th inaugural lecture at Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo. She said the compound is added to bread dough to strengthen it, increase loaf volume, and improve the texture.

She said the compound can cause sore throat, abdominal pains, Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, kidney failure and heart failure. She revealed that studies have linked the compound to cancer in experimental animals and humans and has been classified as a potential carcinogen. She said in spite of the banning of its usage in Nigeria since 1993, her recent study if its usage in Ibadan and Oyo towns indicated the use of Potassium bromate in 72 percent of the samples used; a clear show that the compound is still in use. She called on National Agency for food and Drugs and Control [NAFDAC] to intensify enlightenment and enforcement of the ban.

The Professor, who teaches in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, also discouraged some contemporary food practices, saying they were generally harmful. She said studies have also shown that the uncontrolled use of additives, in making snacks in fast food houses, has resulted in overweight in adults and obesity in adolescents. She said wrapping of local moi-moi in leaves, while cooking it, is better that wrapping it in nylon or other contents. She said the leaves preserve the taste and make it more hygienic.

She also advised Nigerians to diversify their food choices rather than being restricted to Garri, fufu, Amala and Rice, as seem to be the case. She said Nigeria is blessed with a large variety of food, about 70 crops that can serve as food items. She acknowledged that rice production has been on the rise in the country such that government has banned its importation.

‘This is a step in the right direction, but rice is not the only food that Nigerians eat and need. Just as the government is diversifying the economy, there is need to diversify crop species for production and consumption. Emphasis should be on producing more of food crops like maize, yams, fruits, leafy fruits and vegetables…there is need to  enlarge our food basket to increase most of crop species, a large variety of diets can be available to promote a good nutrition and encourage optimal health’ she stated in her paper.

The expert in food chemistry condemned the current practice of using polyethylene wrappers to steam moinmoin or make agidi, saying it is deleterious to health. The practice, she said, releases Dioxins and other carcinogenic toxins into the food, during the process of cooking. She also made a strong case for the promotion of Nigerian diets outside the popular Garri, pounded yam and fufu and the consumption of fruits. At the end of her presentation, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Rt. Rev. Professor Dapo Asaju, declared that she had successfully inaugurated her chair as a Professor of food Chemistry in the university. The inaugural, which was chaired by Asaju, was attended by many eminent scholars from Ajayi Crowther University and University of Ibadan, where Akinnawo got all her degrees.


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