Dr Biodun Ogungbo, MBBS, FRCS, FRCSEd, MSc
Many people especially medical doctors were shocked to learn that people were using tablets of Paracetamol to cook meat. Apparently, it makes the meat tender quickly and so avoids long hours of cooking.
I can imagine its use with food such as cow leg and ponmo
The story was featured on Christmas Day and you can read the sensational news here
Further research reveals that the issue was first highlighted in Accra, Ghana and may have originated from food vendors in Ghana. However, this is a bad practice and should not have been imported into Nigeria.
We are slowly killing ourselves and fellow human beings
Paracetamol, is a good medicine to take for pain especially headaches and works wonders when taken in the right amount. But, subject to abuse, it is a dangerous drug and can cause liver damage and death. Taking too much of Paracetamol is typically followed by a couple of days without any symptoms, after which yellowish skin, blood clotting problems, and confusion occurs as a result of liver failure. Additional complications may include kidney failure, pancreatitis, low blood sugar, and lactic acidosis.
A combination of problems that can lead to multiple organ failure and death
Medical experts say that when Paracetamol is used in cooking, it is changed to a dangerous chemical which is what breaks down the meat. But, this substance called 4-aminophenol, travels to the kidneys when consumed and damages the kidneys. The incidence of kidney failure is increasing at an alarming rate in Nigeria and many young men especially are desperately dying because of kidney failure. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is very common and it has become a public health problem in Nigeria.
The number of people on dialysis or looking for kidney transplant is increasing
People with CKD need dialysis about 3 times a week. At a cost of N60, 000 weekly results in N250, 000 per month. There is also the hidden cost of blood tests and drugs. There are so many other issues besides and sometimes patients need a kidney transplant. A big issue! Can you afford a kidney transplant?
The risks and costs are just too much
People should take heed to only use medications as directed and avoid any other fanciful use regardless of cost savings. Drugs to heal pain or disease should certainly not be used for cooking or any other use. The act is dangerous and can kill as mentioned above. The costs to reverse the bad side effects will always cost more including potential painful death which can be avoided by simply following instructions for use and not use for anything else.
Please, please be careful out there
It seems that meat sellers and restaurants use Paracetamol to cook goat meat (pepper soup) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and other surrounding areas. This act is sure to have spread to other parts of Nigeria and demands serious awareness campaign by the government and well-meaning Nigerians. Everyone must talk about this so the people who use Paracetamol to cook can understand the enormous risks they expose us all to.
It also seems that some people are putting real drugs like Ibuprofen, Lasix and Anti Diarrhoea medications in native herbal concoctions (Agbo). The fake herbal concoctions have killed and maimed many who think they are using natural substances for health. Please do not allow poverty and stupidity to lead to disability and death in your family.
The National President, Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), Professor Olufemi Babalola said, ‘’we are extremely concerned by this development and I would like to lend my voice to the calls for extreme vigilance by all. Education of the cooks, food vendors and restaurateurs is critical. This is a menace that must be confronted with increased awareness’’.
So, please do be careful with where you buy stuff from, especially cooked food, unless you can trust the source. Many food products on the streets have not been evaluated by the local government officials and are not worth the plate they are on. Your health is so vitally important and it is time you take it serious.
Talk to the food vendors, ask questions and challenge their hygiene issues. If concerned please educate them. They need to be educated and carried along for all our sakes.
If not possible, please report to the appropriate authorities.