By Miriam Humbe
Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in a bid to make Nigerian condiments and spices attractive and safe for human consumption, locally and for export recently convened a working group meeting on the draft Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS) for African Fermented Condiments at its training center, Ogba, Lagos.
Declaring the meeting open, the Director General, Osita Aboloma Esq. emphasized the need for drafting of the Standards in optimizing traditional methods as well as ensuring continual improvement in the quality of seasoning with fermented condiments offered for sale and human consumption in Nigeria.
According to him, spices and condiments are made from natural plants or vegetable products and the mixtures derived are used in whole or ground form, mainly for imparting flavor, aroma and piquancy to foods. They are also used for seasoning of foods, soups and other beverages.
Represented by the Director, Standards Development, Mrs Chinyere Egwuonwu, Aboloma underscored the significant role of spices and condiments in human life via specific flavor, taste, aroma, aesthetics and economic importance.
According to him, it can be a source of foreign exchange earnings through export.
Explaining further Aboloma, stated “fermented vegetables begin with Lacto-fermentation; a method of food preservation that enhances the nutrient content of the food. The action of this bacteria makes the minerals in cultured foods more readily available to the body. The bacteria also produce vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial for digestion”.Also speaking during the meeting, the Head Food Group, SON Dr. Mrs Omolara Okunlola highlighted the benefits of fermented African Condiments as a flavor enhancer, veritable source of protein, essential vitamins and other micronutrients which have been largely researched and documented.
She explained that the production of African Fermented Condiments has been on the increase due to introduction of new technologies resulting in large scale production. “From the traditional small-scale household basis under highly variable conditions, production of Fermented Condiments are moving to a more standardized process that will guarantee consistent quality” she said.
According to Okunlola, the code of practice is being established for the guidance of processing and packaging African Fermented Condiments to assure the quality and ensure its safety for human consumption.
African condiments according to the Work Group are derived from different vegetables and seeds such as oil bean seeds, cotton seeds, castor oil seeds, melon seeds, locust beans etc.
“They are differentiated by the processes of fermentation and production from different cultures and tribes across Nigeria and known by different names such as Dadawa in Northern Nigeria, Ogiri Isi and Ogiri Opei in the East and Iru in Western Nigeria”.
Participants in the work group meeting included representatives of NAFDAC, West African Seasoning Ltd, Life Pro Food Mills, AACE Food and other interested parties from the industry.
SON was represented by Messrs. Elsie Ofili, Deputy Director/Head Tobacco Desk, Deputy Director/ Head, Laboratory Services, Mrs. Yeside Akinlabi, Deputy Director, Micronutrient Laboratory, Mrs Talatu Ethan and Edo State Coordinator, Mr. Ojo Akogu.