… Calls for synergy among Govt Agencies
By Chioma Obinna
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Prof Moji Adeyeye on Sunday decried the incessant rejection of food and agricultural commodities from Nigeria by the United States of America USA and the European Union member countries over what she described as “poor quality”.
Adeyeye in a press statement on Quality and Safety of Export Food Trade made available to Vanguard, urged all the regulatory agencies at the port saddled with the responsibility of ensuring high quality of imports and exports to find urgent and lasting solutions to Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) Border Rejection Notifications from the European Commission on products originating from Nigeria.
Adeyeye lamented the resultant bad image the repeated rejection of commodities from Nigeria by the EU has caused the country.
She expressed concern over the volume of food and agricultural commodities from Nigeria that is currently facing challenges at entry points in some countries in Europe and the US where they have been repeatedly rejected.
‘’NAFDAC has a statutory responsibility to safeguard public health through the execution of its mandate. We are charged with the responsibility to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled and packaged water, chemicals – generally referred to as NAFDAC regulated products.’’
“NAFDAC is designated as World Trade Organization/Sanitary and Phytosanitary Enquiry Point in Nigeria on Food Safety to facilitate international trade, and respond to enquiries on safety standards, regulations, and guidelines on food trade in Nigeria.
Adeyeye said internationally, Nigeria’s products meant for the export market are faced with the presence of contaminants such as pesticide residues, notoriously dichlorvos and other impurities, exceeding maximum permitted level and some with inadequate packaging and labelling which had caused a lot of products’ rejections in the global market.
She noted that the international market is competitive in nature and only welcomes products of high quality with relevant certifications and quality packaging that is environmentally friendly, to trade globally, stressing that the problem of quality, standard, certification, and appropriate packaging for made-in-Nigeria products destined for export has been an issue in the international market and there is a need to address the issue of rejections.
The NAFDAC boss disclosed that the Agency has over the years intervened to assist Nigerian exporters to meet with international regulations thereby creating employment and earning foreign exchange for Nigeria.
Through this intervention by NAFDAC, she added that it was agreed that these products be subjected to 100 per cent pre-export testing and issuance of Health Certificate to products with satisfactory limits before European Union further verifies at their border control points.
Adeyeye further disclosed that her Agency had analysed the RASFF alert from the EU and observed that most rejected products by the EU were smuggled out and not certified by NAFDAC nor the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services at the ports, adding that this calls for proper collaboration and synergy amongst all agencies of government to curb the indecent behaviour of some exporters and ensure only quality and certified products are exported.
‘’We need to close gaps and work together to prevent regulatory gaps being exploited by the unscrupulous traders and their collaborators. There must be convergence for all regulatory activities especially at the Ports of Exit as a starting point before we begin cleaning up and capacitating the honest operators and traders within the country’’.
Based on the RASFF alert received from the EU, she said NAFDAC had sensitized food processors, handlers and exporters through training programmes, workshops and seminars on current Food Safety Management requirements such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practises (GMP), Good Hygiene Practices (GHP), Risk Analysis to ensure that products are safe and of good quality, to gain consumers’ confidence and acceptability in Nigeria and international export markets.
‘’Effective assessments of export products are very key and basic information that may need to be considered in the accompanying shipping documents include Certificate of Radiation, Health certificate, Sanitary and Phytosanitary certificate, Evidence of fumigation of vessels and evidence of risk-based inspection on food Safety, must all be certified by the appropriate and designated competent authorities having current scope-testing accreditation.’’