Nutritionists say certain raw foods especially those of animal origin must be properly cooked and strict hygiene practices observed during their processing to avoid contamination and food poisoning, Punch reports.

According to President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, says except for fruits and vegetables that can be consumed raw, other foods must be cooked before consumption.

Afolabi, a Professor of Community Nutrition at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, however, said the nutrients gotten from some vegetables are better maximised when cooked than eaten raw.

The nutritionist stated that there are nutritional factors that will reduce the ability to utilise proteins that are contained in foods when consumed raw.

The don explained, “Fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw. But there are also some categories of vegetables that when eaten raw, have some anti-nutrient factors that can interact with the nutrients in them to reduce absorption such that it reduces the nutritional benefits you can get from them.

“Apart from that, legumes and some cereals are also known to have these anti-nutrient factors, some of which we call phytic acids which are antitrypsin factors. These are factors that will reduce the ability to utilise proteins that are contained in such foods.

“Then, some of these antinutritional factors also bind with minerals that are contained in such cereals and legumes such that they are not readily available for absorption by human beings when they consume them.

“So, cooking such foods and processing them reduces the level of these nutritional factors and also, makes the minerals and vitamins that we are talking about to be available for human consumption. So, except for fruits and vegetables, it is not good to consume food raw.”

Prof. Afolabi also noted that it is risky to consume foods of animal origin raw, stressing that such foods could be contaminated during processing.

“With respect to some animal foods too, the risk of contamination during human handling is there. When they are consumed raw, there are also risks of contamination – injecting microbes that are introduced during processing which will come out as poisoning for human beings. So, that is why it is not usually good to consume such foods raw.

“When meats are processed from the abattoir, you have to cook them properly. The way we handle food in this country is poor. The risk of contamination is high. Foods should be processed by observing strict hygiene practices.


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