The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has restated its readiness to implement and fully regulate fats, oil and foods containing fats and oil, as well as pre-packaged food labelling in the country.
Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, stated this at a world press conference in Lagos on Monday during the unveiling of the newly gazetted Fats, Oil and Food Containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022 and Pre-Packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2022.
She said the emergence of the two reviewed regulations implied that the 2005 versions of the regulations have been repealed without jeopardizing whatever was purportedly done earlier in the spirit of the old versions.
Explaining the health risk posed by the consumption of foods containing excess fats and oil, she said statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for 74 percent of all deaths globally.
Her words: “In real terms, over 36 million people die yearly from NCDs. Among these, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death, accounting for 17.5 million deaths every year.
“In this category, high blood pressure leads is a risk factor. CVDs are disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and they include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, among other conditions. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease are collectively responsible for 74 percent of all deaths worldwide.
“NCDs are estimated to account for about a quarter of total deaths in Nigeria. The probability of dying between ages 30 and 70 years from the main NCDs is 20 percent at the 2018 World Health Assembly in Geneva the WHO called on countries to eliminate industrially-produced Trans fats –Trans Fatty Acid (TFAs) from global food supplies.”
She added that the WHO released an action package tagged REPLACE that includes policy recommendations and interventions for governments to pursue, as well as recommended policy pathways for implementation.
The WHO banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils that is the source of industrially produced TFAs in all foods and set limits on the amount of industrially produced TFAs produced to not more than two percent of the total fat content in all foods.
The NAFDAC boss further stated that with the co-operation, collaboration and support of the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Trans-Fat Coalition Partners including Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), among others, the agency worked towards achieving the two pathways.
“We are already working with the industry and our partners to find alternative sources to the existing partially hydrogenated oils that are the source of industrially produced Trans-Fats (iTFAs).
“Most importantly we have reviewed the Fats and Oil regulation 2005 and we have a newly gazetted reviewed regulation known as Fats, Oil and Food Containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022. This regulation has addressed the second pathway for elimination of iTFAs with the limit of not more than two percent (0.02ppm) of the total fats in a fat, oil and food containing fats and oil products as recommended by the WHO.
“Also, the Pre-packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2005 has also been reviewed to take care of the labelling requirement for Trans-fats hence we now have a reviewed and gazetted Pre-Packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2022,” she said.
Speaking further, she said the arrangement of the Fats, Oil and Food Containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022 include the scope of application; source of edible fats and oils; Vitamin A fortification; additives and impurities.
Others are labelling of fats and oils products and labelling limits and claims for trans-fats and cholesterol; classification, definition and specification of fats and oils; prohibition; offences and penalties; forfeiture after conviction; revocation; interpretation and citation.
A representative of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. John Atanda, Dr. Jerome Mafeni of NHED, Joy Amafah of GHAI and Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who made brief remarks at the unveiling of the gazetted regulation, commended NAFDAC for the feat.
Specifically, Amafah applauded NAFDAC and all partners for the accomplishment and commitment to safeguarding public health, maintaining that Nigeria is the second country in Africa after South Africa to gazette regulations for Fats, Oils and Foods containing Fats and Oils.
On his part, Oluwafemi said the gazette of the regulations Fats, Oils, and Food containing Fats and Oils 2022 is the highpoint of a journey that began in 2018 when draft regulations were conceived and subsequently opened for inputs from members of the public and critical stakeholders before they were approved by NAFDAC Governing Council.
He pointed out that unveiling of the newly gazette regulation marked the end of that phase and the beginning of a new phase where the media practitioners should continue to play a crucial role in educating members of the public on the contents of the regulations.
He expressed hope that with the regulations, Nigeria will be able to combat some risk factors of NCDs, adding: “As other partners have rightly noted, we will have more time dedicated to other emerging issues around diet-related health burdens.
“While the issues of NCDs have not been totally eradicated, as we are reminded of the dangers of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) and salt intake, we must celebrate the achievement of the regulations as it points again to the resilience and dedication of NAFDAC to truly safeguarding the health of the nation through partnerships like this and thorough work on behalf of members of the public.”
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