This investigation exposed how some vendors on the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, campus are selling expired products to students of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, despite the existence of food task force appointed by the Students’ Union Caretaker Committee to curb selling of the expired goods on campus.
By: Hayatullahi Mudathir
Already worn out around 3 pm due to the hectic day, but Mohammed Taoheed, a 21-year-old 100-Level Law student at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto still had another assignment to cover on that Saturday, 3rd of December, 2022. He decided to quench his thirst and gain more strength while returning from the lecture, unknown to him that the Bigi Fanta he bought from the UDUS campus business owner had expired.
“I bought the Bigi Fanta from one Mallam whose shop is beside Access Bank,” Taoheed worrisomely described the shop where he bought an expired soft drink on campus.
Wearing a face laced with disappointment and fear, Taoheed told this reporter that he had already drunk the soft drink before he discovered that it had expired and had to throw the remaining of it away.
“When I drank it to a certain level, the taste changed in my mouth. It was not completely sour, but kind of. And it tasted like chewed paracetamol. When I told a friend, he urged me to check the bottle for the expiry date details and that was how I discovered it,” he said.
Unfortunately, Taoheed could not challenge the seller because of disparities in their languages. While Taoheed who hails from Ilorin, Kwara State, a Yoruba-speaking community, speaks English on campus, the seller of the expired drinks (Mallam) only speaks and understands the Hausa language.
He said: “I would have challenged him but I don’t even understand the Hausa language to communicate with him.”
In amazement, Mohammed Taoheed couldn’t still believe that expired food items could still be sold to students on campus, even though there is a Special Task Force formed by the Students’ Union Caretaker Committee to curb such acts.
“All these people (shop owners) should have been enlightened by the SU Special Task Force or even checked their shops immediately when the students resumed back to school when they knew that we had actually been away for a good eight months,” Taoheed lamented.
Taoheed faulted the SU Special Task Force on the Food committee for not carrying out their assignments.
Recall that the Students’ Union Caretaker Committee (CTC), under the leadership of Shamsudeen Umar, had on 28th October 2021, launched a Special Task Force and inaugurated some members to form a committee that regulates the status and price of food items, transportation and water on campus.
According to the report published by PEN PRESS, the SU CTC chairman explained that the committee that has Yusuf Abubakar as its Chairman was set up to find a solution to the plights of UDUS students, and was saddled with the responsibility of attending to the issues being complained about by the students and bring ease to their affairs.
“We deem it necessary to set up this committee for food, transportation, and water, with the name ‘SU TASK FORCE’ as the school management has approved it,” the chairman reportedly said.
But due to the failure of the Students’ Union Task Force to perform the duty imposed on them effectively, made the UDUS campus vendors keep selling expired products to students on campus.
More students share their horrible experiences with UDUS campus vendors
Like Mohammed Taoheed, Saadudeen Naallah, a 300-Level student of Education Economics at UDUS also bought expired food items on campus.
According to Naallah, the expired item was sold to him on Thursday 1st of December, 2022, before the day that Bigi Cola was sold to Taoheed.
“I bought two different biscuits and both biscuits cost N100 each,” he complained.
When Naallah described the place where he bought the expired biscuit he consumed, he said: “The man that always stays in the front of the B09 lecture hall sold it to me.”
Naallah further stated that when he challenged the seller, he was asked to pick another biscuit, “and unfortunately the second one is expired too.”
Just like Taoheed, Naallah too could not argue further with the seller because of the language barrier.
“I don’t understand Hausa and the man doesn’t understand English either.”
Naallah, however, complained that he felt weak because he had consumed the first biscuit before realizing it had expired long before the day he bought it, “but I took a nap and woke up strong.”
Another student, Akinola Yusuf, a 100-Level student of the Faculty of Agricultural Science was also among the students that bought expired items on campus. He expressed his disappointment over the conduct of the sellers that are selling expired food items to students on campus.
Yusuf complained about his wasted money, noting that he bought the Coca-Cola soft drinks for 120 naira, only to later discover that it had expired in November.
“The third shop counted from the left, If you’re going to Jubril Aminu Mosque, that’s where I bought it,” he described.
When Yusuf was asked if he challenged the shop owner or not, he replied that he didn’t go back to the shop to challenge them.
“I threw away the drinks,” he said.
Why Students Should Check Date Markings on Packaged Foods
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has cautioned Nigerians to check date markings on packaged foods, drugs and cosmetics to avoid consuming expired products.
Mr Abdusalam Lawan, who is the agency’s Coordinator in Jigawa state said: “It is important for people to always check date markings on packaged foods, drugs and cosmetics before using them to avoid consuming expired products. What we mean by date marking is the batch number, production date and expiry date. Packaged food carries Best Before while drugs and cosmetics carry Expiry Date. So, people should endeavour to check these date markings on any product they buy.”
He also advised people to ensure that each product they want to buy has a NAFDAC registration number.
“First and foremost, for any product, one is buying, the first thing to ensure is whether such a product, be it packaged food, drug or cosmetic, carries a NAFDAC registration number. After that, then check its date markings; when all these are found to be in order, then go ahead and buy; consume as they are safe for consumption,” he said.
Similarly, on the 22nd of October, 2022, amid the resumption of UDUS into the second semester 2020/2021 academic session, while the chief of staff to the SU CTC, Comrade Ibrahim A. Khalifa was welcoming students back on campus after the ASUU strike that had kept them home for eight months urged the students to always check the goods they would be buying from shop owners on campus.
Ibrahim Khalifa noted that: “Some of the goods in these shops have been there for a long time and might have expired. The sellers are only concerned about selling their products, but you should be concerned about your health.
“Kindly check the expiry date of the snacks and drinks you buy in school and we assure you that both the management and the students’ union are working towards providing better and adequate welfare to her students.”
Students Reveal Expectations From the School Management
Mohammed Taoheed advised the school management to take vital measures in curbing the inglorious action as this is acutely dangerous to students’ health.
“This is a university community and vendors like them should be shunned off this type of activity they do just because they want to make money,” he urged.
Naallah, in his own thoughts, said that the man (seller) might not know the items have expired. He, therefore, urged the SU CTC Special Task Force to swing into action, by going around the shops on campus as early as school resumes after a holiday to curtail the act of selling expired food items to students.
“My advice to students also is that they should be checking the expiry dates before consuming any item they buy,” he advised.
Akinola Yusuf Abiodun also pleaded that the school management should intervene in curbing the sales of expired food items to students on campus by the shop owners.
“They should just help us tell them that any time school resumes from long holidays, they should always check all goods that have expired and throw them away,” Yusuf pleaded.
SU Special Task Force Chairman Reacts
Abubakar Yusuf, the Chairman of the Students’ Union Special Task Force claimed that he had warned the shop owners not to sell expired food items to students, which they (shop owners) also pledge never to do so.
“Last two weeks, I went round to warn them against selling expired products to students,” he said.
When checked, the time frame quoted by the Chairman food and transport committee which falls between the 4th and 7th of December, 2022, it was discovered that Mohammed Taoheed, Adeshina Naallah and Yusuf Akinola among other students of UDUS had bought and consumed expired food items on campus before the time he visited the shops to caution the sellers from selling expired food items to students.
He, however, threatened that the shops where expired food items were claimed to have been bought would be visited, and if found still selling expired items, would be penalised accordingly.
“Even if it’s our SU shops, I will lock them, and if it’s other shops, we will forward their cases to the school management, and the school will lock the shops,” he threatened.
Mrs Popoola Rashidat Olukemi, the Osun State Nutrition Officer stated that expired food items are the items that have already reached the date by which the rancidity has occurred at which certain destructive and other diseases causing bacteria have acted upon that food, whereby the food gets spoiled and becomes poisonous.
“The food may lose its palatable smell, and its odour becomes offensive, when the particular food gets spoiled, and a certain individual consumes the food, there is going to be a reaction occurring in the system,” she explained.
Mrs Olukemi added by stating the possible symptoms of consuming expired food items.
“The consumption of spoiled food, because of the bacteria that has acted on that food, makes the person have stomach discomfort, stomach cramps, vomiting, and also result in diarrhoea, uncontrollable stooling, and again, fever may set in,” she listed.
She advised that when these symptoms occur, the best thing for the person is to visit the hospital.
“The good news about expired food is that the person may overcome those challenges quickly if prompt medical attention is given,” she added.
She, however, urged that the best way to control this is to avoid eating expired food items or foods that are not well cooked because they become food poisoning and react negatively in the body system.