To end rejection of made in Nigeria products
By Chioma Obinna
The rejection faced by Nigerian products may, however, become a thing of the past as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, has strengthened its laboratory services nationwide.
Before now, efforts by the Federal Government to make export bound products from Nigeria acceptable have repeatedly failed in the past due to complaints that are directly or remotely linked to quality, standard, certification and appropriate packaging.
From perishable consumable to finished products, exporters have faced rejection of their products in the International markets mostly because they fail to meet up with the standards set by the destination country’s regulatory authorities. Sanitary and phytosanitary issues in foods have been major grounds for the rejection of Nigerian food Exports.
However, precisely on April 29th 2021, SON was officially presented with the Laboratory Accreditation Certificates issued by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) to boost the body’s technical competence in the field of electrical, micronutrients and paint testing.
For the Director-General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, the event was symbolic of great achievement on the part of the present administration.
While chronicling the milestone achieved by the organisation in the area of laboratory services, Salim said, “SON laboratories embarked on the journey of Accreditation as far back as the year 2009, which led to the accreditation of Food Technology Laboratory in areas of Biological and Chemical Testing in 2014 by American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). These are being maintained and sustained with the support and commitment of Management to the highly dedicated laboratory personnel. Today, we are celebrating the accreditation of three more Laboratories here at SON Laboratory Complex at Ogba,”
The laboratories accredited on the day in accordance with the recognized ISO/IEC 17025:2017-General requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories include the Cable Testing Laboratory, Micronutrients Testing Laboratory and the Paint Testing Laboratory
“The accreditation demonstrates technical competence for defined scopes to perform tests on Food, Paint and Electrical cables products including Chemical (Micronutrients) Testing which covers parameters such as; Iodine in Iodized Salt; Vitamin A (Retinol) in Foods; Lead Content in Paint; Non-Volatile Matter (%) in Paint; Specular Gloss (%) in Paint as well as Electrical (Cable) Testing which covers parameters such as Conductor Resistance at 20 degrees Celcius, Elongations at Break for Insulation, Tensile Strength Tests for Insulations, among others,” the SON DG stated.
In addition to competencies of the newly accredited laboratories, SON’s Food Technology laboratories have competence in testing food samples in Physico-chemical parameters such a Moisture, Ash, Protein, Fat, Crude Fibre, Heavy Metals). Other areas of competence of the laboratories include Microbiology parameters (Aerobic Plate Count, Coliforms, Escherichia coli, Yeasts and Mould, Salmonella spp, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacteriaceae).
Speaking on the relevance of the accreditation Salim said it ensures acceptance of test results within and beyond borders, greater control of laboratory processes, customer satisfaction based on the integrity of the results and brand value addition.
According to him, it is intended to also promote local content by offering subsidized and quality testing services to local manufacturers and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as facilitate income generation through maximization of costs for local manufacturers who would not need to send products across borders for pre-shipment testing for goods meant for export.
He said, “Accreditation of our labs would facilitate global recognition thereby facilitating trade across the borders, enhancing and promoting the global competitiveness of made in Nigeria goods through quality testing services thereby reduce the Incidence of rejection of exported goods by offering quality testing services for farm produce that is meant for exports.”
The SON DG used the opportunity to call on all stakeholders to partner with the organisation by patronising all the accredited SON Laboratories in the field of Food Testing, Chemical Testing and Electrical Testing.
Presently, SON has five principal laboratories located around the country. These include the Food Technology Laboratories, the Chemical Technology Laboratories and the Electrical/Electronic Laboratory, all located in Lekki, Lagos State.
There is also an Engineering Laboratory, located in Emene, Enugu state for the purpose of carrying out engineering tests in Mechanical Engineering Tests: Tensile, impact, complete metallographic, chemical analysis of metals, tensile tests etc.
SON also has a Textile and Leather Laboratory located in Kaduna that is equipped to carry out a comprehensive analysis of Textile and Leather products.
The immediate past Director, Laboratory Services, Mrs Mojisola Kehinde under whom some of the milestones were achieved described the accreditation of the SON laboratories as ‘hard-earned.
Kehinde said, “Ever since 2009 that the journey of Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 (General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories) began which yielded fruit in the accreditation of Food Technology Laboratory in 2014, the quest to have all laboratories accredited has been on the front burner.”
Testing services, as offered by SON enable effective performance of quality assurance activities during the implementation of standards.
The tests carried out are mainly third-party conformity assessment of products using the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards or any other applicable international standards.
While SON is developing its competence in laboratory services, it has also stepped up calibration services presently offered to industries, government agencies, research institutions, testing laboratories in various fields of metrology namely; mass, length, temperature and pressure.
SON is the custodian of the National Primary Measurement Standards in the country and has been officially designated as the National Metrology Institute (NMI) of Nigeria.
The National Metrology Institute (NMI) in SON is responsible for Scientific Metrology while the Weights & Measures Department (WMD) of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment (FMITI) oversees the formulation and implementation of policies for Legal Metrology.