Lagos, Oct. 1, 2023: The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and eHealth, has urged NAFDAC to prioritise the establishment of a testing laboratory for fortification.
The Senior Programme Officer, CISLAC, Mr Muhammed Murtala, said during the groups visit to the Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), that establishing a laboratory for testing fortification in Nigeria, would help to ensure that Nigerians have access to safe and nutritious food.
According to him, fortification is the process of adding vitamins and minerals to food and it is a public health strategy that is used to improve the nutritional status of a population and to prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
He said that the lack of a testing laboratory was a major obstacle to the effective implementation of the mandatory food fortification programme in Nigeria
He noted that NAFDAC currently relies on private laboratories to test fortified foods, which according to him, was expensive and time-consuming.
Mr Dianabasi Akpaninyang, Consultant, Large-Scale Food Fortification and Workforce Nutrition Project, urged the government to partner with the private sector to promote food fortification in Nigeria.
He said, “the government can do this by developing and implementing policies that support food fortification, such as mandatory fortification standards and financial incentives for food producers.
“The private sector can do this by investing in food fortification equipment and by producing and marketing fortified foods.”
He urged the company to ensure their workers are fortified meals, noting that consuming food fortified with all nutrients would improve their productivity and prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
Earlier, Mrs Jessica Nworgu, Manager, Quality Control, FMN, urged the government to equip its lab and ensure the workers had the technical know-how to carry out sample testings.
“I wish that the regulatory bodies like the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have a good lab.
“I feel that part of their problems is the technical know-how; and if they have the technical know-how, and are trained with the right equipment to carry out these tests, it will go a long way.
“I say this because when we send our samples to them, they are able to analyse only two or three of the micronutrients which does not make sense.
“So, if we have a good lab, or private lab or even advocacy labs that can be set for the manufacturing company, It will be wonderful,” she said.
She also complained about the cost of production for the Vitamin A premix, which is a fortification micronutrient, the recommended tariff of 20 per cent as against five per cent, among others.
The highlight of the visit was a tour to the company’ canteen to check if workers were fed with fortified food, visit to the store where fortificant were kept and how they were mixed.