Dr. Heiner Lehr, the National Expert on Value Chain, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, on Wednesday linked a percentage of liver cancer cases in Africa to aflatoxins.
Lehr made the assertion while delivering a keynote address at the 1st Nigeria Food Safety and Investment Forum in Lagos.
The expert, who spoke on: “Nigeria Value Chain Improvement,” said the presence of aflatoxins in beans and other food products pose serious danger to consumers of such product.
Lehr said: “If a lactating mother is exposed to aflatoxins, the breast milk is also contaminated with aflatoxins.
“Cows that eat feeds contaminated with aflatoxins also will produce contaminated milk.”
Lehr noted that 70 per cent of beans exported from Nigeria to Europe were rejected and Nigeria incurred a ban from the European Union because of the presence of aflatoxins and pesticides in such food products.
He said: “Seventy per cent of all shipments of beans that came to Europe were filled with pesticides; and subsequently trade with EU was suspended.”
The expert said that a conduit of excellence was required to ensure that local products meet international requirements with zero rejects.
He said: “A conduit of excellence is a dedicated supply chain around key quality infrastructure elements embedded in a full chain quality and safety management.”
Lehr said when the process of the conduit of excellence was observed, food could be exported without any issues in the international market.
According to him, this will breed success through long term access to high value markets.
Lehr said: “When the conduit of excellence is followed through, we become role models to others to follow.”
The expert said that following the conduit of excellence required good agricultural practice, proper record keeping and a clarification on the roles of extension services.
He said that the foods passed through NAFDAC laboratory in Kaduna and Technology Incubation Centre in Lagos are certified okay by the global community.
Lehr said that meeting the quality and safety needs of foods meant for export required inputs from the private and public sectors.
He said that there was the need to make a case for investment and a national awareness that would meet national and foreign demand.
Lehr said: “The inter-ministerial committee had adopted the conduits of excellence as a key methodology to achieve the goal of zero rejects.
“Nigeria needs to be perceived in the international community as a deliverer of quality and safe food.”