Health experts have raised the alarm that some farmers are using hormones, steroids and a lot of antibiotics in rearing chicken and fish.
This practice, they say, is inimical to public health, warning that it may cause serious health problems like allergies and asthma in children.
According to the experts, hormones such as steroidal (oestrogens, gestagens, and androgens), nonsteroidal, semisynthetic, and synthetic or designer drugs are all growth-promoting and body-partitioning agents.
They stated that some farm-owners use these chemicals to improve body weight gain and increase feed conversion efficiency, stressing that this is wrong.
According to them, the use of these hormones and hormonal growth-promoting agents eventually ends up with the occurrence of residues in animal food.
They cautioned that the incidence of hormone residues in such types of food and food products is a risk factor for the occurrence of public health problems.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, a Professor of Radiation Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ifeoma Okoye, says the government should look into what Nigerians are eating by checking the nation’s food production process.
Okoye said this is because a lot of Nigerians are injecting poisons into their body by what they eat, owing to sharp practices in the food production chain.
According to her, some farmers are putting hormones and steroids in the feeds that they give to their chicken and fishes for them to grow larger and faster, without considering the health implications on the consuming public.
The cancer specialist said, “Injecting hormones and steroids in fishes without control can cause all manner of medical problems.
“Some of these farmers add hormone and steroids to the feeds of their chicken to make them grow bigger. A lot of antibiotics are also used in poultry. All these are potential poisons that people are injecting without knowing the health implications.
“The use of these drugs can cause allergy in children and adults. A lot of children are now having allergies and asthma. The government should pay attention to this.”
Okoye called on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to intensify its surveillance activities and ensure that what Nigerians are consuming is safe.
She also urged Nigerians to avoid processed meat like sausages, warning that they are carcinogenic.
According to a 2020 article published in Hindawi journal titled, “Hormones and Hormonal Anabolics: Residues in Animal Source Food, Potential Public Health Impacts, and Methods of Analysis”, the European Union countries have strongly prohibited the use of hormones and hormonal growth promoters and anabolic drugs in farmed animals destined for human food.
Hindawi is one of the world’s open-access journal publishers.
The authors said that in several countries, the safety of animal-origin food has mainly been focused on avoiding the transmission of zoonotic diseases with less attention being paid to potentially present chemical residues and resulting diseases.
They noted that concerns regarding the safety of livestock products and the prevalence of public health hazards have grown according to the increased use of hormones and hormonal anabolic substances.
“These substances could be steroid hormones and nonsteroidal products and synthetic chemicals which mimic hormone functions and are known for their interference on the function of the endocrine system.
“In addition to endocrine disturbances, hormones such as oestrogen are known for their carcinogenicity and genotoxic potential, and others, such as diethylstilbestrol, are reported to have mutagenic and carcinogenic properties.
“Public awareness programmes and community mobilisation campaigns are needed to alert the farming community, food professionals, and industry owners about the negative consequences and the potential public health impacts related to the use and misuse of hormones and hormonal anabolics in animals raised for human food.
“The use of hormones and hormonal anabolic growth promoters should always be of concern,” the authors said.
An executive member of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, Mr. Wale Ojo, told PUNCH HealthWise in an interview that farmers involved in the use of hormones and steroids to rear their chicken should be arrested.
“I don’t know if any of our members are doing it. But anybody using steroids to feed his or her birds should be arrested by the government. I don’t even know what steroids look like. Our own is to feed our chicken with quality feeds, give them vitamins and normal antibiotics,” he said.
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