Cooking food in polythene bags persists in Uganda despite health hazards

Cooking food in polythene bags persists in Uganda despite health hazards
While many people might find it convenient to prepare food covered with polyethylene bags, public health experts say it could have some negative health consequences. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda |URN | The use of polythene bags to wrap and cover food is persisting in food joints and homes in Uganda.

When our reporter visited some food joints, food which includes bananas, rice sweet potatoes and cassava was being cooked in polythene bags, despite the health hazards.

A housewife in Makerere Kikoni who only identified herself as Brenda reveals that she sometimes uses polythene in cooking matooke to save her from the inconveniences of buying banana leaves.

Adda Nyamwiza, says that she used to use polythene for cooking while at hostel because it was cheaper and convenient compared to banana leaves.

Proscovia Nanyanzi, the women chairperson central village Kisenyi I zone says that as a local council together with KCCA health department have tried to fight against the practice in the community especially in food joints, in vain.

Christine Auma, a 60-year old who owns a food joint in Makerere University observes that the continued practice of using polythene can be attributed to the growing change in trends, and people diverting from traditional ways of preparing food covered using banana leaves.

She says that a safe and better option is to use banana leaves.

Dr. Rodrigo Nyinoburyo, a Public Health specialist with USAID says that when the polythene is heated beyond certain temperature, it leads to the melting of some of the chemicals in composition like lead, hydrocarbons and benzene which further gets into the food.

Dr. Nyinoburyo adds that when the food is consumed, it can cause mutations in the body cells causing them to become cancerous and other diseases like digestive disorders, liver and kidney related diseases.

Peter Kaujju, the KCCA Spokesperson says that the authority has continued mass sensitization against the use of polythene to wrap and cover food by emphasizing the health and environmental consequences of the practice.

Toxic effect

When the body receives an external or foreign element, the body mechanism retaliates by sending it’s cells to fight the foreign, in-taken harmful components. And when the body cells are over powered, abdominal, kidney and other cancers are likely to occur.

If it is children, they may experience intensive diarrohea because their body systems are weaker compared to those of the adults.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 40 million people each year.

Each year, 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 years die from a NCD. Cardiovascular diseases account for 17.7 million people annually, followed by cancers (8.8 million), respiratory diseases (3.9 million), and diabetes (1.6 million), according to WHO.

Polyethylene bag has the same effect on human beings, just as it has on the environment.