Last week, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) sealed the business outlet of Chocolate Royal.
NAFDAC shut down Chocolat Royal owned by the Lebanese billionaire owner of Cool, Wazobia, Nigeria Info FM radio stations, Cool and WEE television station Mr Amin Moussalli. following the realization that they were using fake, unregistered, expired and unwholesome food products to produce consumables for customers.
Not only that majority of these food products discovered, have expired since 2004, (11- years ago) and the least 2013, the most worrisome aspect of it all was the discovery to the consternation of NAFDAC officials that the management of Chocolat Royal had revalidated the expiring dates of almost all the food products, while 90 % of them were not even written in English language and therefore not registered.
While two of the illegal cold rooms built in front of toilets were discovered at the Chocolat Royal headquarters at 267A Etim Iyang Crescent, another two were discovered and also sealed at N0 1 Karimu Kotun resident of the Chairman, Mr Amin Moussalli both located in Victoria Island Lagos.
This Lebanese business mogul receives these products mostly for free or at a reduced price and also gets paid from these companies to evacuate the products which ordinarily would have cost them colossal amount of money to dispose and ships in large quantities to Nigeria which has become his dumping ground for food toxic for close to two decades.
These products are then cleared at the wharf and offloaded inside the two cold rooms at his Karimu Kotun resident, Victoria Island where they are then transferred to Chocolat Royal headquarters and then used to prepare ice creams, chocolates, beverages and pastries for members of the public.
At the end of the double operations which lasted for nine hours, imported fake, unregistered and expired food products worth over N1bn stocked in these illegal cold rooms were evacuated in six Hilux vans and buses which NAFDAC stormed the place with.
Understanding the gravity of what was about to happen if eventually discovered, they denied NAFDAC officials’ access to the cold rooms and stores to forestall more discoveries after some large quantities of the expired food products were discovered in their freezers, kitchens and bars upstairs, requesting for search warrant from the officials; a ploy later discovered to be a strategy to enable them evacuate the cold rooms and stores.
The NAFDAC officials took inventories of the expired products discovered inside the freezers, kitchen and some bars upstairs and urged them to signed, while every cold room in sight was sealed to prevent the management access for more evacuation.
Pretending to have concluded inspection, they asked Chocolat Royal management to report to NAFDAC office the next day and then stormed Mr Moussalli’s Karimu Kotun resident where the first two 40ft secret illegal cold rooms filled with fake, unregistered and expired food products built on top of sewage were discovered.
At the end of evacuation, two buses and two Hilux pick-up vans filled with the fake and expired products worth over N500 million, all imported were evacuated from the Karimu Ikotun resident of Mr. Moussali alone.
The NAFDAC director, who commended the officers and the entire team for the successful operation despite the intimidation from the staff of the offending company, further said that the food and confectionary outlet will continue to remain close to allow for proper investigation.
“They will be investigated by the Federal Taskforce on Fake and Counterfeit Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods, and at the end of investigation, files submitted will be reviewed and after evaluation, we would send them to our legal department and we will be advised on what to do by the legal and if we have enough facts, then we will now proceed for prosecution,” he added.
A medical practitioner, Dr Bassey Richard who spoke to our a correspondent on phone when asked to give insight on the health implication of consuming expired food products, said that consumption of fake and expired food products can cause food poisoning and very dangerous especially to pregnant women and infants.
“Eating expired food products will likely lead to food poisoning. Food poisoning consists of diarrhea and vomiting that can last for weeks, lead to fever and in some extreme cases to death.
“When it has to do with foods prepared with fruits such as nuts, apples and grapes, growth known as mycotoxins can occur, which can cause itchiness, diarrhea, vomiting and dizziness. It is not advisable to eat expired food products,” he said.