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Second hand cooking items should be avoided — Nwaoney

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In a section of Ipodo Market in Ikeja, Lagos, Lara Kolawole seemed absorbed, as she took time to carefully select second hand pots, pans and cutleries from a heap on a large table. She closely scrutinised each item, even as she sometimes rummaged in the big sack that held more cooking wares, looking for quality ones. It was quite a while before she finally signaled to the seller that she had had enough and was satisfied with the chosen items. All the while, the seller was equally busy, helping her to search for the matching lids and in some cases, the knobs of pots and pans. Then the haggling started in earnest, and after a while, they finally agreed on a price for the purchased items.

When The Guardian correspondent inquired why it took her so long to select the cooking wares and cutleries, she replied that she wanted to be sure that they were still in very good condition.

Pointing to her purchase, most of which were looking as good as new, she said: “The cooking utensils and cutleries come in different conditions, and they are all mixed up in the containers that bring them. So, you have to properly search for the good ones, if you are the type that cares about quality.

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“I was looking carefully at the items to check for dents, holes and especially rust, as I read somewhere that it is not good to use rusted pots and pans to cook. A friend, who is a medical doctor also said it is not good for the health.”

But why didn’t she go for brand new pots and pans that sell at cheaper price?

“You see, these second hand ones I bought are pure steel. The amount I paid for all of these items is not up to N15, 000. I used to buy steel pots and pans because they last long and are good for cooking. That was when we were financially buoyant in the family, but now things are different. And even if I want to buy aluminium pots and pans, together with the other items, I will spend far more than that amount. The last time I went to the market to price a set of three steel pots, I was told to pay N45, 000. Where will I get that from, with the economic situation in the country,” she queried.

Indeed, more people are patronising markets where second hand cooking utensils and cutleries are sold. These markets are springing up everywhere to cater to buyers, whose number is daily growing. And their prices are determined by the quality and condition.

Emeka, who sells second hand cooking utensils and cutleries somewhere in Ajao Estate, Lagos, explained that second hand cooking utensils usually come in first, second and third grades.

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He said: “Those that are referred to as first grade are still in very good condition. And except you have the experience and are familiar with the market, you might not be able to differentiate between them and brand new ones. It may interest you to know that people that have big supermarkets and stores go to buy used items in this category, wash them properly, package and then sell them for the price of brand new ones.”

He explained that items in the second grade are those that are neither in very good nor very bad shape. They are good enough for use with the pots and pans having no hole, dent or rust. They also sell for lower prices than the first grade.

“The used items in the third grade are in relatively bad shape,” he said. “For instance, there might be holes in the pots and the spoons and forks might be bent. But those that buy such pots know how to seal the holes and amend any other issues the utensils might have. But it is very easy to see that they are used items and are very cheap.”

Asked whether he is aware of any health implication in the use of second hand cooking utensils and cutleries, Benjamin, who sells second hand cooking items, pressing iron and refrigerators, among others, in Lawanson, Lagos, replied in the negative.

“What negative health effects are there,” he queried. “It is just a matter of washing the items properly before use. The Europeans that used the pots and cutleries are neat and hygienic. The buyer only has to wash the dirt that might have accumulated in the process of transporting them to Africa. So, you only need to wash them.”

But Dr. Anthony Nwaoney, Medical Director, Richie Hospital and CEO, Elshaadai Group, Lagos, said there are certainly some side effects to using second hand cooking utensils and cutleries.

“There are problems, when people use second hand cooking utensils and cutleries,” he said. “All pots and pans are made with chemicals, and every chemical and product has expiry date. So, after the expiry date, continuous use of such product poses danger to the health.

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“For instance, steel pots and pans have expiry date on their cartons or the manual that comes with them. But since the second hand ones do not come in their original package or with manuals, there is no way of knowing the expiry date.”

In his view, it is not recommended to buy used cooking utensils, whether they are first, second or third grade. “It matters not the condition, a used product is only such. I feel all second hand cooking wares should be avoided for health purposes,” he said.

However, if due to economic and other reasons, individuals must buy used cooking items and cutleries, he suggested that they should be washed thoroughly with antibacterial and antifungal soaps and properly dried before use.

“Also, these used items should be discarded, as soon as the user notices any discolouration. This is especially emphasised in the case of rusting cooking utensils. Using such items affects the health negatively.”

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