Agency warns against canned foods

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Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has alerted the nation on the presence of poisonous chemicals in substances used to preserve tomatoes.

The warning came during a training exercise organised by the FCTA’s Agricuture and Rural Development Secretariat for over 300 women on how best to process and preserve tomato.

The trainees were drawn from all the six Area Councils of the FCT.

The exercise took place in Area Services 1, Garki and Gwagwalada, Abuja.

Leader of the training team, Mrs Oladoja Margaret to addressed a section of the media during one of the training sessions at Abuja Zoological Garden, Area 1, said that the two-day event drew 50 leaders of women from each of the six Area Councils and trained them so that they would go back to their Councils and train other women.

Speaking on the essence of the training, Mrs. Margaret said: “We have a group of women we have been [interacting with] and we realised that that there are some seasons tomato will be so cheap and there are times that a basket will be going for N10,000 to N15,000 and at that time, majority of the women will not be able to afford it.

“So we thought of how we could help these women get this product when it is cheap, process and preserve it so that they can eat it throughout the year, because tomato is a very important aspect of our nutrition and we are looking at how we can train our women improve the nutrition of their family members.

“Another thing is that, we want people to desist from consumption of chemically processed foods, because recently there has been many cases of people using chemicals to process and preserve food such so we are out to also sensitise them on the dangers of chemicals in our food.”

She however noted that neither tin or sachet tomatoes was not cancerous in itself, Oladoja further explained that it was the presence of three poisonous chemicals used in preserving such tomatoes that rendered them cancerous [though still nutritious].

According to her, harmful chemicals found in tin and sachet tomatoes include colour, which is added to make them red and attractive to the public; backing powder with starch, which is meant to thicken it; Ajinomoto, which makes the products sweet and preservatives for keeping make them for many years.

Mrs. Margaret who doubles as chief planning officer in the secretariat, also said that the training would help FCT women, their families and small business owners consume healthy tomatoes, prevent post-harvest losses, empower them economically, provide good health and save resources.

Participants at the training expressed gratitude to the FCT Administration for the opportunity to learn new things and promised they would put them to use.

To Mrs. Deborah Joshua Gazama, it was a real idea for all women and could even help those without anything to so that it can start business with it, instead of staying idle and dependent. Mrs Gazama ended: “It is not only women who should do it, even you, it is good for even men.”

Another participant, Mrs. Nnenna Mercy Chukwuma, described the pertaining as “lovely and a solution to our problem in post-harbest losses in the area of tomatoes.”

According to her, she learnt how to preserve tomatoes and make use of it after more than six months, even as she called on other women and men to key into the training because it was a wonderful and money-saving one.

Another beneficiary, Mrs. Adoo Tyoban said that she did not know why her tomatoes used to blacken after boiling until when she attended the training was told both in the theory and practicals.

The women were taught to cover the pot firmly when boiling tomatoes, and that they should not add water because the product already has water it.

They were shown how to air-tightly cover the glass bottles after putting the boiled product in to it make it last for longer times and stay fresh.

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