The Acting Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs. Yetunde Oni, has called for the need to expand and sustain the food fortification programme in Nigeria considering the devastating effect of malnutrition and poor dietary intake in the country.
Making the call at the National Fortification and Alliance (NFA) meeting held in Lagos, Oni noted that out of about 21 widely known micronutrients, five of them were of public health significance (vitamin A, Iron, Iodine, Zinc and folic acid.), adding that they contribute significantly to good health and proper growth of the body and for human survival.
According to her, infants, young children, teenagers, pregnant and breast feeding mothers were prone to becoming malnourished and as such require additional nutrients all the time.
She emphasised that, “one in four children under the age of five suffers from vitamin A deficiency, 31 per cent of mothers in Nigeria are iodine deficient. Available statistics show that nutrition contributes to over 50 per cent child mortality in Nigeria. These statistics make it unimaginable to question the importance of micronutrients to achieving the socio economic development of any country and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.
Oni said that in order to meet set United Nations targets, NAFDAC developed the Vitamin A Food Fortification Regulations, 2005.
She said among other contents, the regulations address, “Prohibition of manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution and sale of any designated food vehicle that is not fortified with vitamin A and other elements as prescribed. Control of advertisement of vitamin A fortified foods -to be censored and given permit before use, labeling requirements for vitamin A fortified foods.
“The regulation also addresses use of logo on all packaged vitamin A fortified food-an eye with letter ‘’A’’ inside it, packaging specifications, interpretations, penalty for non-compliance, which includes administrative fines and prosecution legislators without penalty for violations, will be futile, among others.”