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Experts warn on dangers of using paracetamol to cook

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if you still buy food from roadside restaurants, perhaps you need to have a rethink, as many of the spots have been said to now use paracetamol – a pain killer to soften meat and fry fish.
Experts have warned that excessive consumption of paracetamol is a strong potential poison.
Doctor Frank Mojekwu, who is based in Warrior, Delta State, has advised those adding paracetamol to boiling meat or frying to desist from such act.

He highlighted the dangers of paracetamol toxicity to include liver and kidney failure, stressing that the unhealthy act and might have contributed to the increasing number of people with kidney failure in Nigeria.
Mojekwu lamented that it was strange how Nigerians take some decision that have to do with their health without consulting or seeking medical advice from an expert, who will guide them on the health implications.
He warned food vendors and caterers to desist from such acts, saying that in the long run, would result in analgesic nephropathy.
Paracetamol is widely used in Nigeria and elsewhere, for cure of headaches, body pains and others.
“Continuous use of Paracetamol can cause potentially fatal liver damage. Things get much worse when combined with alcoholic drinks, particularly alcoholic bitters. It is more dangerous to patients with liver damage.
“Paracetamol is metabolised primarily in the liver into toxic and non-toxic products. Some final products are inactive, non-toxic, and eventually excreted by the kidneys. However, there is an intermediate product that is toxic and is considered to be responsible for liver problems, like acute liver failure, a killer clinical condition,” noted medical consultant, Dr. Mojekwu.
As gathered, the prime reason for people cooking yam, meat and other foods with paracetamol is to quickly tenderize them and avoid long boiling times.
In the same vein, Dr Charles Emmanuel, a Nigerian Doctor based in Ukraine, explained that when the drug is used for cooking, it is hydrolyzed (broken down) into aminophenol, which is highly toxic to the kidney. He corroborated others’ stance that a high consumption of analgesics over many years is a well-known cause of kidney damage.

He said high doses of aspirin or paracetamol can cause acute renal failure. Therefore (for health reasons), use of paracetamol for tenderizing meat must be highly discouraged.
A Chef with one of the highly patronized restaurants in Lagos, Osi Urubuisi said: “Toughness of meat comes from the collagen (the connective tissues). During cooking it slowly breaks down into a substance called gelatin, and the meat becomes soft. Without using paracetamol, you can tenderize meat by cooking with a pressure cooker.

Brining (salting): This involves soaking the meat in a highly concentrated salt-water solution, typically for about 20 hours, before cooking. “If you know anybody that uses paracetamol for softening meat, please advise them to desist from it,” she cautioned.
Also, she said slicing the meat can help to sever muscle fibres and thereby hastens softening while cooking.

In her contribution, Mrs. Cordelia Idoghor said it was not just roadside restaurant but some caterers hired to cook party meals also do unimaginable things,

“ If you employ their services ensure you are there to supervise the cooking because they put paracetamol to save kerosene or gas in order to cook quickly.

During the yuletide celebration, a food vendor confirmed to the reporter while being interviewed off camera that she added some paracetamol to fry the fish. She gave her reason that she does so, so that the fish doesn’t scatter while frying it.

“We use paracetamol to cook meat for people to eat, especially all those cowl legs that are hard to cook. We use it for goat meat pepper soup,” she said.

In a report from Nigerian Association of Nephrology, about 25million Nigerians have kidney failure. Hypertension is a huge cause but abuse of paracetamol is also responsible.
“It’s a lot faster to boil meat with paracetamol. I have used it to cook cow leg on a number of occasions. If you add one tablet, the meat will melt and become soft in just ten minutes,” a young mother, Tinuae (not real name), told this reporter upon inquiry.

The Sun

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Jake Clifford

Jake Clifford is a Nigerian Born blogger and a fast growing Journalist, whose aim is to inform Nigerians with happening across Nigeria. Send story tips to him via [email protected] or


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