Manufacturers of African fermented condiments have been enjoined to take optimum advantage of the development of standards and code of practices for the products to promote greater competitiveness, locally and for export.
Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Osita Aboloma Esq. made the call at the opening of a technical committee meeting on Culinary Herbs, Spices, Seasonings, Tea and Flavourings held at the SON Training Center, Ogba Lagos recently.
Represented by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr. Yahaya Nuhu Fana, the SON Chief Executive stated that the Standardisation of the processes of production and quality of African Fermented Condiments is a necessary component to satisfy consumers and boost patronage of the products locally and internationally.
Aboloma, stated that Africa is highly endowed with many fermented food condiments with available literature review identifying nine different products in Nigeria alone.
He alluded to the fact that production dynamics and methods employed in the manufacture of these fermented condiments differ from one region to another.
According to him, the microbial interplay during production and the nutritional qualities in the condiments however appear to be the same.
The SON Chief Executive stated that the condiments in addition to their flavouring properties hitherto used to serve as source of plant protein particularly to rural dwellers.
He stressed that the associated nutritional benefits of its consumption has captured the attention of urban dwellers and highly placed people.
According to Aboloma, “Standards form the backbone of Quality Assurance that facilitates trading hinged on specifications, adherence to common testing regimes, use of common language, provision of specified level of quality and following international best practices”.
Aboloma further described the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) as a precise and authoritative document that prescribes rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or for their results, aimed at the achievement of optimum degree of order for a product or service.
He challenged manufacturers of African Fermented Condiments to ensure compliance to minimum quality requirements and safety of these products as highlighted in the standard when finally approved by the Standards Council.
Aboloma enjoined the Technical Committee members to bring their rich knowledge and experiences to bear in the deliberations.
He stated that the approved standard and code of practice will be presented to the African Organisation for Standardization (ARSO) for consideration and adoption as continental specifications for wider application.
Chairman of the Technical Committee, Professor Adeniyi Ogunjobi of the University of Ibadan stated that Nigeria was leading the way for the rest of the African Continent to follow, as there are no record of Standards for these set of Condiments.
He disclosed that the products were already being exported to other countries of the world, hence the need to develop the standard and code of practice for comparison and conformity assessment in view of the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
Professor Ogunjobi said the position of Nigeria in the Continent of Africa is germane. “We must be seen to provide leadership in many areas. We as a nation should not be waiting for others to give us standard to follow, many of those nations do not have the expertise that are available here” he stated.
Also speaking at the meeting, SON Director, Standards Development, Mrs. Chinyere Egwuonwu emphasized that developing the Standards would promote a more hygienic production practice and further bring to fore the significance of specific flavor, taste, aroma and aesthetics in African Fermented Condiments in food.
SON Group Head, Food Technology, Dr. Mrs. Omolara Okunlola remarked that the production of African fermented condiments is on the increase, hence the Standard would promote new technologies for large scale production from the traditional small-scale household basis under highly variable conditions.
According to her, the code of practice was being established for guidance of processing and packaging of African Fermented Condiments to assure the quality of the products and safety for human consumption.
Participants at the TC meeting include representatives from, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO),Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (FMARD), Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI).
Others were from Tiger Foods, West African Seasoning Ltd, University of Ibadan, Nadim Food and Spices, Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria (IPAN), AACE Foods, Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, National Agricultural Seed Council and other industry giants.