By Chioma Obinna
How wholesome is that tomato paste you are consuming? Experts say it may be reddish in colour and ravishing but could lead to other diseases such as cancer. To this end, the global food safety concerns on processed fruits and vegetables, which tomatoes pastes belong took the centre stage in Lagos recently, during a Consultative Meeting with Importers of Tomato Paste in Retail Packs (Sachet/Tin) from China by Erisco Foods producers of RIC-GIKO tomato paste with support from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
The concerns came as a result of a recent discovery that a group of Asians and their Nigerian collaborators have been killing Nigerians by selling starch and colouring in the name of Tomato paste.
According to the President of Erisco foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeiofia, reports from a NAFDAC survey revealed that such killer tomato paste with colouring are carcinogenic and therefore unfit for human consumption.
Apart from the cancer-causing colouring, the starch contained in those products is clearly harmful to unsuspecting diabetic patients. This, the importers have been doing by luring unsuspecting Nigerians with banned synthetic colouring agents which are eye-catching and other substandard ingredients and with sell at cheap prices! However, it has been established that the more red your food is via substandard tomato paste, the more you endanger your life and that of your family,” he stated.
Umeiofia who explained that Ric-Giko shared their standard with tomato paste produced in the United State, South Africa and EU lamented the faking of some genuine tomato paste in the country. He said wholesome tomato paste such as RIC-GIKO should be a rich source of Lycopene, a photochemical with many possible health benefits and a natural pigment that gives many red fruits and vegetables their colour.
“It has been scientifically proven that Lycopene contains a potent antioxidant that stabilizes free radicals making them harmless and helping the body to dispose of them thereby reducing the risks of cancer and other Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs.
However, the substandard tomato paste contain little or no Lycopene and secondly, the banned colouring used by importers of deadly tomato paste are most times impossible to dispose of from the body. The colourings therefore stick to veins, arteries and vital organs and accumulate to cause cancer, hypertension and other diseases.
In addition, the banned colouring agents have been proven to cause poor neurological development in children; causing hyperactivity, poor concentration and, hence, poor performance in education and progress in life. He advised Nigerians to patronise only made-in-Nigeria Food product, adding that the Nigerian government should encourage indigenous local manufacturers, especially in the food sector as tomato paste.
Endorsing Ric-giko tomato paste, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii stated that it has become imperative to conduct a study on the quality of tomato pastes imported from China to Nigeria.
Orhii said: “Tomato is one of the consumed fruits in the world, either as raw fruits or as processed products. In fact, available records revealed that globally, tomatoes are second only to potatoes in economic importance and consumption and are used in the food industry as raw material for the production of several products like juices, sauces, purse, pastes and canned tomatoes.”
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