This year 2014 marks the tenth year anniversary of a significant food borne illness incident in Nigeria that for a moment brought the problem to the highest domain of public discussion.
I am referring to the Indomie Noodles scare that occurred in May 2004.
When the news started making rounds that Indomie Noodles, a very popular instant noodles brand, was resulting not just in sickness but in deaths of those that eat them, it sparked off a kind of negative nationwide reaction to a food brand unseen or unheard of before in this country.
Calls were being made from friends to friends, family members to family members, SMS were flying about (this was before the advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter in the country) and there was a wild stampede in almost every home across the country to get rid of the noodles. Even in schools, teachers were going from lunch pack to lunch pack of kids looking for anyone that brought noodles to school mainly so because Indomie noodles was a favorite meal of children at that time. Everyone was suddenly aware of and talking of food borne illness and its effects. In government corridors, social gatherings, schools, offices, homes, churches there was a frenzy of activity.
Never before and never afterwards till date has so much public attention been given to the notion that food can lead to death in the annals of this country.
The true story of what actually happened still remains unclear. But one thing that was established after the frenzy died down was that there were no sporadic deaths across the country resulting from eating Indomie noodles as was being rumored. What was confirmed was that someone did die in Lagos…but the connection of that fatality to the eating of a pack of Indomie noodles wasn’t scientifically established in anyway.
I recall without prejudice that I was a Quality Control Technician at the Indomie Noodles Plant of De-United Foods Industries Limited (Makers of the Product) and at the exact tenth year anniversary to be marked in May this year I hope to put a post up that looks into the entire episode.
One good but shortlived outcome of the whole episode is that ordinary folks became aware of the problem of food borne illness and the dangers of consuming contaminated foods.