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Exclusive: Medical Practitioner Warns Consumers Against Roadside Foods



A Medical Practitioner at the Blue Cross Hospital, Ogba in Lagos, Dr. Solomon Ekere, has warned Nigerians against consumption of roadside foods.

The medical practitioner said poor food hygiene practices by the roadside food vendors can lead consumers of such foods becoming severely ill, most likely with food poisoning.

Dr. Ekere during an exclusive interview with at his medical office in Ogba Lagos, said there are many risks involved when people consume roadside foods.

His words: “Generally, roadside foods consumption is quite common in Nigeria, and particularly in Lagos State, there are several factors that contribute to the rising percentage of people that patronise foods from roadside vendors.

“The most important reason here in Lagos is because of the logistics of people getting to work in the morning and coming back late at night, so it is almost impossible for them to actually make their own food.

“They end up getting food from vendors outside. These food vendors are located on the roadside, proximity to traffic and these factors introduce a lot of risks in the food consumed and to the people that consume these foods.”

Speaking on the health implications of the consumption of these foods which some Nigerians, especially in Lagos State are now getting addicted to, Dr. Ekere said people consuming roadside food are likely to be exposed to foods that contain microbes – virus, bacteria, parasites, among others.

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“The number one implication for consuming foods at the roadside is food poisoning. These may include people consuming foods that contain microbes – virus, bacteria and parasites, among others. The reason for this is because of the level of hygiene involved when preparing foods for a large number of people.

“It is almost impossible to replicate the kind of hygiene we maintain while preparing our own personal food. So, there is a significant rise in the incidence of food poisoning, when we consume food from outside vendors.

“There are also other risks involved when people consume roadside foods, like what we call heavy metal poisoning. Due to the fact that there is high traffic on our roads, vehicles exhaust different kinds of metals – lead, mercury from poor fuel consumption and other means.

“These heavy chemicals find their way into the food and into the body system of the consumer, when this happens, the heavy metal tends to pile up, they tend to accumulate in the body and cause damage to the organs; the liver, the kidney, even the brain. These heavy metals disrupt the human body’s functioning and damage the organs.

“Number three involves substances that are consciously added to the meals. Because they are preparing meals for the public, they can’t really gauge how long the food is going to stay, so they’ll want to add some additives. Some form of additives to preserve the foods. Some of these preservatives contain chemicals that are harmful to the body,” he said.

Dr. Ekere, therefore, appealed to people to try as much as possible to make their own meals, noting that if they must patronise roadside food vendors, they should make sure they look into their practice.

“By practice, I mean how hygienic are they, how they prepare their meals, the environment they use, is it safe? Is it a place where there is open drainage, poor hygiene, e.t.c? Roadside foods consumers have to consider many factors, and also consider how they react to their foods,” he advised.

Speaking to some roadside food sellers, they lamented that the economic situation in Nigeria is a major factor that has pushed them to be selling food by the roadside since some of them could not afford to rent a kiosk or restaurant to do their businesses.

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