Lawmakers resolve to visit Asian factories to investigate allegations of 'killer tomato pastes'

Tomato Paste manufacturers in the country, including Dangote Farms, Erisco Foods Limited and Savanna Farms, yesterday appeared before the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Health Care Services and Drugs and Narcotics; where they told lawmakers  that over 91.1% of the tomato pastes in the country were fake and substandard. This is just as the House condemned alleged importation of
dangerous killer tomato pastes into the country and promised to carry out investigations into the matter.

On the same day, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, slapped a N1m administrative fine on  Erisco Foods, for alleged unauthorized advertisement of a range of products without clearance and approval from the agency.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, stated that allegations which are injurious to public health, would be treated seriously by the House. Speaker Dogara, who was represented by the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, stated that the public hearing centered primarily on importation of fake, substandard and cancer-causing tomato paste into the country.

Going further, he noted that the unpatriotic attitude of some companies and individuals importing fake, substandard and cancer-causing tomato paste into the country, at the expense of the health and wellbeing of Nigerians was worrisome.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Chike John Okafor, stated that there were allegations of tomato pastes imported from some Asian countries, which were found to contain carcinogens and other contaminants; hazardous, injurious to health, and unfit for human consumption.

Okafor said: “This allegation created panic, mistrust, fear and is suspected to be responsible for high death rate and the probable cause of the current cause of scarcity of tomatoes, and its attendant high cost in the country. Let me state in clear terms that this committee has a responsibility to protect the lives of numerous Nigerian consumers who could be the victims of this alleged importation.

“We totally condemn these alleged dangerous killer tomato pastes imported into Nigeria and we will carry out a comprehensive investigation into this matter, even if it will take us beyond the borders of Nigeria, including visiting the factories in Asia and other parts of the world to inspect the processing factories of NAFDAC-approved Nigeria importers to get to the bottom of this allegation and bring the perpetrators to book.”

Expressing confidence that NAFDAC understood its responsibility, in accordance with the Act establishing it, the Lawmaker said: “I want to believe that this allegation is not true.  However, if proven to be true, that means NAFDAC would be seen to have done a great disservice to this country; and compromised representatives/staff of NAFDAC would be dealt with, in line with the laws of the land.”

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