Medical and food safety professionals say it is unsafe to consume locally made drinks that are packaged in recycled plastic bottles.
The experts said certain chemicals in plastic bottles can leach from into the drinks and cause infections that could trigger debilitating medical conditions.
The experts said besides not observing safety protocols during the preparations of such drinks that include zobbo and juiced tiger nut, among others, pet bottles, which are often picked by scavengers at dump sites and from drainage, are technically not reusable.
A food expert, Aina Olugbenga, said the safety of local beverages packed in used plastic bottles cannot be guaranteed.
the safety of local beverages packed in used plastic bottles cannot be guaranteed
Olugbenga, who is the Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Lagos State chapter, said, “They are supposed to, at best, be recycled and not to be reused. Most of the pet bottles that you see in Nigeria are not meant to be reused. But we reuse them. It is not safe, it is unhygienic.
“I see a lot of them being used to package zobbo, kunu, and tiger nut drinks for sale; but the health implications are so much.
“We can’t guarantee the cleanliness of these bottles. One is that you don’t know who used it last and you don’t know what it was used for, so the cleaning process can’t be guaranteed.”
Most of the pet bottles that you see in Nigeria are not meant to be reused
Olugbenga also said most of the plastic bottles used for packaging the drinks are carcinogenic.
He said, “At the end, they leach into the beverages or any content stored inside them. They end up in the body of the consumers and become a toxin.
“So, this practice must be discouraged as much as possible. We should let them know that these bottles are not reusable. All these pet bottles are single-use bottles.”
most of the plastic bottles used for packaging the drinks are carcinogenic
According to him, the bottles are supposed to be disposed of after use, adding, “At best, the only thing that they can do is to recycle it. There is a difference between reusing and recycling.
“Reusing means you can still store something in it, but most of these bottles are not reusable. Recycling means that the bottle is crushed and used for another purpose entirely.
“So, let us as much as possible discourage the practice. Those who make those local drinks should find other means of bottling their products.”
The food expert also warned that using bottles picked from the streets is not safe.
“There are some things that we can’t see with our eyes, they are called microorganisms. Those microorganisms are there and when they are bottled with the drinks, the consumer will drink it and it becomes toxic to the body.
“When it builds and accumulates in the body, over time it can destroy internal organs like the kidney, which can lead to death.”
pet bottles are single-use bottles
Speaking also, a Public Health Physician, Dr. Omobolanle Johnson, said that there were lots of health risks associated with the bottles themselves, and leaving them in the sun over time could be dangerous to health.
Johnson, who is the Secretary, Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, said not only are the bottles mostly picked in all manner of unhealthy places, they are also not properly washed much of the time.
The public health expert said the bottle might have aflatoxins due to poor storage, warning that it is dangerous to the liver and kidney health.
Expressing further concern about the drinks, the physician said, “For the person making the drink, it is just about the money. They don’t have any training in food safety. So, consumers are exposed to various health risks ranging from viral to bacterial infections.