The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said that Nigeria is already at the finish line when it comes to the elimination of trans-fat in Nigeria’s food supply chain.
The agency made this known at the launch of the 4th “Countdown to 2023” report by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The report is an annual compilation of progress made on the global stage in the fight against trans-fat since the global call was made in 2018.
Dr Eva Edwards, NAFDAC’s Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN), who was a panelist at the launch, informed the global audience that “the scope of Nigeria’s regulations to eliminate trans-fat covers edible fats and oils and food containing fats and oils”.
“The regulation also has a complimentary regulation on prepackaged food labelling which are all in the final stages and waiting for approval,” she said.
Trans-fat is unhealthy fat that increases the bad cholesterol and decreases the good cholesterol. Trans fats occur in two states; the natural form (or ruminant trans-fat) which is found in meat and dairy products. They form naturally when bacteria in animals’ stomachs digest grass. They have no impact on health, so they are of no cause for concern.
The WHO noted: “Industrially produced trans-fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats.’
With only 11 months left on the calendar for action, the WHO noted that everyone has a role to play in the elimination of trans fat in the global food supply chain.
The Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that there are three specific tasks for the next phase which include “government of countries around the world taking urgent action to implement best practices in their countries, collaboration of food manufacturers, and more work from civil society organisations to advocate more and keep governments on their toes”.
Similarly, Dr. Tom Frieden, President of Resolve to Save Lives, said: “It’s not a time for more studies, it is a time for action” as he reeled-out dangers of trans-fat consumption and why it has no place in our food system.
With more than 20 countries passing best practices regulation on trans-fat elimination, Nigeria, a country with a strategic role on the continent, cannot afford to let her chance to save Nigerians from preventable deaths slide on the slaughtering slab of bureaucracy.
By Abayomi Sarumi, Programme Manager, CAPPA