Tomato pastes manufacturers in the country yesterday told the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Healthcare Services and Drugs and Narcotics that over 91.1 percent of tomato pastes in the country were fake and substandard.
Some of the tomato pastes manufacturing companies that attended the public hearing were Dangote Farms, Erisco Foods Limited and Savanna Farms.
In his submission, the legal adviser of Erisco Foods, Abdulraham Kadri told the committee that the company, alongside Dangote Farms and Savanna Farms, were not at the public hearing because of the financial damage substandard and fake tomato pastes had caused the country.
He said if fake importation was not checked, farmers would lose their jobs.
His position was collaborated by the chairman and chief executive officer of Erisco Foods, Chief Eric Umeofia who appealed to the committee to initiate a law or motion for immediate suspension of all tomato importation, which he alleged were substandard.
Umeofia alleged that his company had been threatened by the regulatory agencies to close down his company, adding that NAFDAC served them with a letter that Erisco had no right to speak except being authorised.
The acting director-general of NAFDAC represented by Prof. Samson Adebayo, director of Research and Services, stated that NAFDAC had not been compromised by importers.
Adebayo hinted that the agency had fined Erisco Foods what it called administrative charge of N1 million for an alleged unauthorised advertisement of Erisco range of products without getting clearance and approval from the agency.
He, however, debunked the allegations from Erisco Foods to the effect that all imported tomato pastes in the country were fake and substandard.
Chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Hon. Chike John Okafor stated that there was allegation of tomato pastes imported from some Asian countries by some importers, which were found to contain carcinogens and other contaminants.
According to him, “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 the current high cost and scarcity of tomatoes in the country.
“Let me state in clear terms that this committee has a responsibility to protect the lives of the 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.”
In his opening address, speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara said the investigative public hearing stated that the House should not consider lightly allegations injurious to public health.

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