Officials were put onto high alert when products, like dried beans, palm oil and nuts were also discovered to contain high levels of chemical contaminants used in fumigation aluminium phosphide, dichlorvos, dimethoate, trichlorfon and cyhalothrin.
Glass fragments, rodent excrements and dead insects were also found.
A recent report issued by the European Commission Rapid Alert System has shown that many products coming out of the African land-locked country have been found to be unfit for human consumption.
Over the past two years, 67 processed and semi-processed food products of Nigerian origin have been rejected by EU member states, including the Netherlands, Germany, Irelands, Denmark, Poland, Greece and Italy, according to the UK’s Food Standard Authority early warning system (EWS).
Forty-two Nigerian food imports were refused entry into the continent in 2015 and another 24 last year.
Many of the products were illegally imported, and don’t feature the correct labels, packaging, health certificate sand other entry documents, state the Commission.
The foodstuffs include brown and white beans, palm oil, shelled groundnuts, peanut chips, sesame seeds and melon seeds, among other products.
Many of the products had not yet reached market before the toxins were discovered. Those that had made it onto shelves were immediately recalled.
Due to the repeated alerts, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has been mandated to certify all packaged, semi-processed and processed food commodities for export, and especially those coming from the African continent.
Lack of know-how
According to the CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Segun Awolowo, the country’s lack of technical knowhow has been responsible for the rejection of Nigerian products at international borders.
As such, NEPC has organised a series of capacity-building workshops to train its local producers in the quality standards and requirements of the global market.
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service has also intensified its efforts at quarantining agricultural produce for local consumption and export.
Internally, the country has launched a Made in Nigeria campaign, aimed to encourage consumers to buy products from domestic companies. The country experienced a recession in 2016, which, according to Euromonitor International, has adversely effected its price-sensitive population.
With a depreciation of the local currently and a scarcity of US dollars, the Nigerian government is hoping that less expensive local products – such as the popular dried fruit snacks produced by Nature’s County Health products – will boost the country’s waning GDP.