The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has reiterated her commitment to a Trans Fat free Nigeria through the use of mandatory regulations. The agency made this known in a media and stakeholders interaction session held on Thursday, 15th December 2022 in Lagos.
While addressing the gathering, Mr. Abdulsalam Ozigis, NAFDAC’s Director of FCT said the regulation is not aimed to witch-hunt the food producers but to bring them into a state where global best practices are adopted and health of Nigerians is safeguarded, including the food producers.
He noted that the regulation is currently waiting to be signed by Honourable Minister of Health which would make it actionable for the agency and ahead of that, it was imperative to engage with the public to understand what the regulation seeks to achieve.
According to the Director, the agency reviewed the 2005 regulations on Fats and Oils to accommodate current realities in health and food production. The reviewed Regulation shall apply to edible fats, oils and foods containing edible fats and oils that are manufactured, imported, exported, advertised, sold, distributed or used in Nigeria.
In order to ensure that food produced and packaged in Nigeria are without trans fat, the regulation stipulates that ‘a person shall not manufacture, package, import, export, advertise, distribute, display for sale, offer for sale, sell or use edible fats and oils as specified in the First Schedule to these Regulations in Nigeria unless, it has been registered in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations’.
Industrially produced Trans fat has been regarded as toxic compounds in processed and packaged foods and have been scientifically proven to be risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Industrially produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats.’ In 2018, the WHO launched the REPLACE package for the elimination of trans fat in food supply by 2023.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), thanked the agency, members of the media, and the stakeholders for committing to the trans fat free Nigeria objectives. He urged them to continue with the different works they are doing in their spaces to ensure that Nigeria joins the list of countries using such regulations to combat diet-related diseases while calling the Minister of Health to sign the regulation as a Christmas gift to the country.