By Somtochukwu Okonkwo
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has expressed optimism that Nigerians will enjoy better food quality and health following the recent gazette of the reviewed Fats, Oil and Food containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022 and the Pre-Packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2022.
NAFDAC Director-General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye who disclosed this at a press briefing jointly organised by the agency and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) in Lagos, noted that deaths attributable to trans fatty acids in Nigerian foods leading to heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease among others will now reduce drastically.
The NAFDAC DG said that the ailments she listed, are collectively responsible for 74% of all Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) deaths worldwide according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that more than 36 million people die annually from them.
She revealed that NCDs are estimated to account for about a quarter of total death in Nigeria and that the probability of dying between ages 30 and 70 years from the main NCDs is 20 per cent.
She also revealed that NAFDAC is already working with the industry and partners to find alternative source to the existing partially hydrogenated oils that are the source of industrially produced Trans-fatty acids. (iTFA).
Joy Amafah, Nigeria Coordinator, Food and Nutrition Programs at the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) commended NAFDAC for the feat and expressed the readiness of GHAI to continue working with government and its civil society partners to ensure the regulations are implemented seamlessly.
In his intervention, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) said that the gazette of the regulations is the highpoint of a journey that began in 2018 when draft regulations were conceived by NAFDAC and subsequently opened for input from the public and critical stakeholders before they were approved by the agency’s Governing Council.
Oluwafemi explained that the media briefing marks the end of that phase and the beginning of a new phase where the media must continue to play a key role in educating the public on the contents of the regulations.
“With these regulations, we will be able to combat some risk factors of NCDs like other partners have rightly noted and we will have more time dedicated to other emerging issues around diet-related health burdens”, he insisted.
The Fats, Oil and Food Containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022 includes provisions on the scope of application; Source of edible fats and oils; Vitamin A fortification; Additives, and Impurities. It also covers the Labelling of fats and oils products; Labelling limits and claims for trans-fats and cholesterol; Classification, definition, and specification of fats and oils; and Offences and penalties among others.
Other groups at the briefing were the Network for Health Equity and Development, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Trans-Fat Coalition Partners in Nigeria.