Addressing the media in Lagos yesterday, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the firm, Mr. Eric Umeofia, alerted the public on the activities of some unscrupulous group of Asian businessmen and their Nigerian collaborators who sell starch and colouring in the name of tomato paste.
Umeofia explained that a recent report from a NAFDAC survey revealed that such colouring are carcinogenic and therefore unfit for human consumption, adding that apart from the cancer-causing colouring, the starch contained in those products are harmful to unsuspecting diabetic patients.
This, he said, the importers have been doing by luring unsuspecting Nigerians with banned synthetic colouring agents, which are eye-catching alongside other substandard ingredients sold to Nigerians at cheap prices.
He warned that the more red a food is via substandard tomato, the more Nigerians endanger their life and that of the family.
Regrettably, apart from killing Nigerians with substandard tomato paste, Umeofia said the importers are also killing the Nigerian economy as they dump substandard tomato paste with subsidies from their home government while local manufacturers of tomato pastes find it difficult to remain in business.
Umeofia, while carrying out a practical demonstration of the features of tomato pastes from Nigeria, South Africa, USA and China, revealed that pastes from Nigeria, South Africa and USA share similar quality characteristics in terms of quality, the ones from Asia failed the colour test, showing that they contain starch and colouring.
On the Ric-Giko tomato paste, Umeofia said it is a rich source of Lycopene, a photochemical with many possible health benefits and a natural pigment that gives many red fruits and vegetables their colour.
‘‘A little Ric-Giko goes a long way. Nigerians must liberate themselves from this food fraud by saying no to imported China tomato paste and say yes to Nigerian tomato paste such as Ric-Giko, Nagiko and Erisco,’’ he said.
The Erisco Food boss said the company has an installed factory capacity of 240,000 metric tonnes per annum (first phase) in Oregun, Lagos State, the first of its kind and largest tomato paste factory in Africa.