By YVONNE ISHOLA
ONE of the most interesting countries in the world is Nigeria. Indeed, there is never a dull moment in Nigeria. Do you wonder why Africa is okay with the choice of Nigerians as the only inmates in BBNaija when other African countries were participating when it was initiated? There is always something dramatic, big and fishy happening in Nigeria.
One would not be far from the truth to say it is always a constant binge of doing evil in Nigeria which is the nature of news the world wants. The Hausa adage that every garden egg is red unless it doesn’t stay under the sun is very apt in describing the Nigerian situation. We are always quick in condemning those at the helm of affairs who steal our national cake with their pens. It would seem even the common man has been devastating Nigerians’ health by using paracetamol tablets to cook tough meat so that in little time it becomes tender.
This affront was brought to the attention of Nigerians on December 31, 2019 by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Ever since the disclosure, lamentations have trailed it unabated by people who patronised restaurants and beer parlors and accompany their drinks with either cow tail or cow leg pepper soup and lover of ponmo.
Speaking with a food vendor who does not want her name in print, she said “I learnt that trick from the owner of a restaurant I used to work for and I have shared that secret with others in this line of business because I did not know it has side effects. All I wanted to learn was how to better my cooking skills and to satisfy my customers.”
Hosea 4:6 (in the Bible) reads “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. It has always been the practice that food or meat that take so much time to cook, home managers look for shorter cuts to cook them. It is the practice to use potash to cook beans to make it tender within the hour or it will eat up your fuel or gas. An alternative is to use what is referred to as ‘tokan tsenyi’. However, medical science and nutritionists have sounded a warning that those additives serve to destroy the nutrients in the food and one ends up eating little or no nutrient. They have instead advocated for the use of onions to boil beans.
For donkey years in Nigeria, caterers have been using nails, coke, potash and ‘tokan tsenyi’ to cook tough meat like cow leg, cow tail, ponmo and cow head to make them tender. In the shortest time possible. In some cases, a combination of nail, coke and potash or any of the others whose chemicals combination might be deadly. This is very common when cooking for a big crowd. It is no wonder that most times partakers of such pepper soup end up with running stomach. Often times, we blame the pepper in the pepper soup, never suspecting the high chemical content that could be present.
Worse hit by this disclosure (of cooking tough meat with paracetamol) are men and women whose stock in trade is visiting a beer parlour after work (from Monday to Friday) to relax with some cold bottles of beer accompanied by a hot plate of peppered soup. Mr. Desmond Attah, who is one person that has to patronize a beer parlour before going home, said “Only God will punish those pepper soup sellers that have been killing us slowly with paractamol soup”.
Mr. Attah’s case is bad because like the average Jos fun lover, he patronizes several beer parlours. Which means it will be miraculous for him to escape taking paracetamol soup.
NAFDAC reported that the evil practice is not only done by food vendors, beer parlours but even households. The use of paracetamol to cook ponmo, cow head, cow leg and cow tail was gaining acceptability until NAFDAC blew the whistle and alerted unsuspecting Nigerians of the evil going on and its effects on our vital organs.
Sampling opinions of caterers within Jos and Rayfield on their reasons for using paracetamol to cook, one of them, Baturiya Adamu said” It saves my time when cooking and guarantees customers satisfaction”, but denies knowing about its effects on the human body.
Madam Keneng, on the other hand, who is a small scale food vendor says she uses every method that can cook her meat. “ I don’t have the kerosene to heat my meat until tender, so I have opted for cooking it with paracetamol which makes it tender in the shortest possible time.”
In a Leadership Publication of January 13, 2020 titled ‘concerns as more Nigerians use Paracetamol to cook written by Chika Okeke, Aduge-Ani and Ihejirika it was explained that “….medical experts have warned that paracetamol, when cooked, loses its pain-killer property and becomes highly acidic and dangerous for human consumption.”
Still in the same publication, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria ([PSN) Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa was quoted as condemning the use of paracetamol to cook thus: A “wicked act”. He explained that paracetamol is paraspecific acid of aminophenol and also a chemical substance.