…begins nationwide routine post market surveillance on Vitamin A
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, yesterday, said that micro-nutrient deficiency remains a huge problem in the country despite its enormous consequences for economic growth and human development.
To this end, the agency has resumed its routine post market surveillance for Vitamin A fortified foods nationwide.
Addressing journalists in continuation of the post market surveillance on Vitamin A at Ojuwoye Market in Mushin area of Lagos, the Chief Regulating Officer, Food Safety Nutrition Directorate, Mrs. Benedicta Obaseki said NAFDAC’s programme on food fortification was to reduce the prevalence of micro-nutrient deficiency among the most vulnerable and at risk population by 20 per cent.
Obaseki, who stated that micronutrient problems are usually hidden and silent, said the 20 per cent can only be achieved through compliance by manufacturers.
Stating that one out of four children under age five suffers from Vitamin A deficiency, she said: “Correlation between suffering, death and malnutrition is real. A child dying as a result of a common childhood illness is a casualty of vitamin A deficiency.
“A child that is away from school as a result of poor learning ability is suffering because he lacks iodine. With these facts, it is unimaginable to question or doubt the importance of vitamin A to achieving socio-economic stability of any country.”
She further explained that post market surveillance was to ensure that the products they inspected in the factories are of the same quantity of Vitamin A recommended levels of 20,000 International Units, IU.
“We want to ascertain the quantity of Vitamin A in the market, so that we will be able to advise them on how to store these products rightly.
“We have gone to their factories to audit their processes to see where the problem is coming from, even the fortification line to see whether they are dosing properly and whether they are buying the right vitamin premix, which they are using to fortify their products.
“We have analysed some products today, some are meeting up but some are not meeting up to standard.”
On why some of the products failed the on- the- spot assessment, she explained that handling of the product could also be a major contributor.
Announcing that the Agency will be mopping up products that failed the tests, she said: “Vitamin A in fortified products depletes when stored under the sun. There is need for traders to store fortified products away from direct sun because sun affects the quality of vitamin A in fortified food products. We are also here to let the public be aware on how to identity fortified food products.
On his part, NAFDAC’s Chief Technologist, Mr. Gregory Omiyi blamed some of the products that failed on exposure to sunlight, stressing the need for traders to learn about good storage practice.
“When you expose products to the sunlight, it is a non- conformance to Good Storage Practice, GSP. As a consumer, when you see products that are not well stored, do not buy, because storage condition is our guideline regulation for labelling.
“It is very important,” he said, adding some of the Vitamin A fortified products tested include, vegetable oil, salt, sugar and flour, among others.