Stakeholders in the food system chain in Nigeria converged on Lagos on Thursday September 8, 2022, to deliberate on the elimination of industrially produced trans-fat in Nigeria’s food supply as part of the REPLACE programme of the World Health Organisation.
The REPLACE action package provides a strategic approach to eliminating industrially produced trans-fat from national food supplies, with the goal of global elimination by 2023.
The acronym stands for Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fat and the landscape for required policy change; Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans-fat with healthier fats and oils; Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat; Assess and monitor trans-fat content in the food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population; Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fat among policy-makers, producers, suppliers, and the public; and Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.
The National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) convened the multilevel stakeholder meeting to prepare and discuss the transition process that will see a reduction of trans fats content in processed and packaged foods, edible oils and other food products to 2gramme/100gramme. The meeting also had public health experts, technical officers of Ministries, Agencies and Departments with key roles, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) players, and advocates and other stakeholders in attendance.
In her welcome remarks, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said that the objective of the stakeholders meeting is to discuss the regulatory pathway for reduction of industrially produced trans-fatty acids (ITFA) from the national food supply to protect the public from its harmful effects.
Professor Adeyeye, who was represented by Mrs. Abayomi Bolaji, Director of Registration and Regulation, noted that the “intake of TFA is associated with increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease (CHD) according to World Health Organisation in 2019. The WHO stated that elimination of industrially produced TFA is a relatively simple policy measure that is within reach for countries, and the evidence for taking policy action is compelling and uncontested.
Kpaku Joyce, Principal Scientific Officer of Food Safety and Quality Programme Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health, noted that the workshop is coming at the right time and encouraged every participant to contribute meaningfully to coming up with viable strategies to achieve the crucial task of iTFA elimination/reduction and meet the WHO target of 2023. She also hinted that the reviewed Fats and Oils Regulations is presently at Federal Ministry of Justice for necessary finetuning and gazette.
Joyce, who delivered the goodwill message of the Federal Ministry of Health on behalf of the National Coordinator, Food Safety and Quality Programme, John Atanda, stated that ministry is fully in support of any action needed to be taken to achieve this goal.
Kemisola Ajasa of Nestle, Central and West Africa, who also serves as the Vice Chairman, Technical Committee, Association of Food, Beverages, and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), commended the efforts of NAFDAC for engaging stakeholders in the process of reducing iTFAs in Nigeria’s food supply. She reiterated the commitment of producers to comply with the regulations.
The gathering also suggested intensified awareness, government support, and effective implementation of the regulation when it is gazette by the Federal Ministry of Justice.