By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged members of the public to inform it of any person or restaurant using paracetamol tablets to prepare food or soften meat during cooking.
The agency, in a public alert issued on Tuesday, said the use of paracetamol for cooking was not only dangerous and toxic, but unfit for human consumption, warning those involved in such act to desist immediately.
In the statement, NAFDAC said it was “seriously concerned” by what it described as not only “dangerous”, but also “illegal,” emphasising that members of the public, especially restaurant operators are “cautioned to desist from the dangerous and unapproved use of paracetamol tablets to soften meat used in food preparation.”
The agency said “such illegal practice makes food to be toxic” because when used to cook, “paracetamol is broken down (or hydrolyzed) into a toxic substance.”
“This substance ultimately damages the liver and some other organs in the body. Thus, the consumption of toxic and unwholesome food illegally prepared using Paracetamol Tablets may result in serious health consequences, including liver damage, kidney failure and untimely death,” it added.
NAFDAC urged members of the public and restaurant operators “to use genuine NAFDAC registered table salt (in moderation) to tenderize meat (by soaking meat in salted water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking) to prevent serious health consequences that may result from dangerous and illegal use of paracetamol tablets in food preparation.”
It said other established and safe methods for tenderizing meat include “cooking with a pressure cooker; marinating (soaking) with vinegar, citrus juices or wine before cooking; marinating with enzymes like pineapple, kiwi, ginger, Asian pear and pawpaw contain enzymes that can help soften meat; slow-cooking the meat; or using commercial meat tenderizers (in moderation), which are sold in powder or liquid form.”
The agency said genuine paracetamol tablets registered by NAFDAC are used to relieve mild pain, stressing that if the pain persists, the patient should consult a healthcare professional for expert advice.
“NAFDAC has heightened surveillance on restaurant operators in the 36 states and the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja to prevent the dangerous and illegal use of paracetamol tablets in food preparation,” it said.
“The members of the public are implored to contact the nearest NAFDAC Office with any information on dangerous and illegal use of paracetamol tablets in food preparation.
“Anybody or organization discovered to be involved in the dangerous and illegal use of paracetamol tablets in food preparation will be severely sanctioned.
“Consumers are advised to report adverse events related to dangerous and illegal use of paracetamol tablets in food preparation to the nearest NAFDAC office, 0800-1-NAFDAC (0800-1-623322) TOLL FREE from all networks or via firstname.lastname@example.org,” the statement said.
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