Nigeria’s Drug Regulator Goes After Restaurants Where Paracetamol is Used To Cook Meat


Agency lists safe ways of tenderizing meat  

By Onche Odeh

Nigeria’s food and drug regulator, The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has launched a heightened nationwide surveillance in search of restaurant operators who use Paracetamol tablets to tenderize meat during cooking.

In an alert issued to this effect, the agency has also warned the public on the dangers of using Paracetamol Tablets to soften meat used in food preparation.

Specifically, the agency noted that the consumption of toxic and unwholesome food illegally prepared using Paracetamol Tablets may result in serious health consequences, including liver damage, kidney failure and untimely death.

In a strong worded statement, the agency warned members of the public, especially restaurant operators to desist from the dangerous and unapproved use of Paracetamol Tablets to soften meat used in food preparation or face its wrath. NAFDAC is concerned that cooking with Paracetamol it makes food to become toxic, unwholesome and unfit for human consumption.

“When used to cook, paracetamol is broken down (or hydrolyzed) into a toxic substance. This substance ultimately damages the liver and some other organs in the body,” NAFDAC stated in the alert dated December 29, 2019.

Meanwhile, the agency has listed some safe methods of softening meat and other foods during cooking.

Some of the methods recommended by NAFDAC include the use of genuine NAFDAC registered Table Salt (in moderation) to tenderize meat to soak the meat in salted water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking. This, the agency stated would prevent serious health consequences that may result from dangerous and illegal use of Paracetamol Tablets in food preparation.

Other established and safe methods for tenderizing meat as recommended by NAFDAAC include cooking with a pressure cooker, marinating (soaking) with vinegar, citrus juices or wine before cooking, marinating with enzymes (Pineapple, kiwi, ginger, Asian pear and pawpaw contain enzymes that can help soften meat, slow-cooking the meat, or by using commercial meat tenderizers (in moderation), which are sold in powder or liquid form.

“Genuine Paracetamol Tablets registered by NAFDAC are used to relieve mild pain and if the pain persists, the patient should consult a healthcare professional for expert advice,” the agency stated in the alert statement.

“Anybody or organization discovered to be involved in the dangerous and illegal use of Paracetamol Tablets in food preparation will be severely sanctioned,” NAFDAC stated,  calling on consumers to report adverse events related to dangerous and illegal use of Paracetamol Tablets in food preparation to its nearest office.



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