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Micro-nutrient deficiency still a huge problem in Nigeria — NAFDAC

…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.


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