The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has sealed a warehouse and shops stocked with unfortified pasta, flour and sugar in different areas in Lagos State.
It also raided major markets in the state as part of its ongoing efforts to stem the tide of substandard products in the country.
The Director-General, Osita Aboloma, said the warehouse and shops contained products that were unwholesome and therefore risky for human consumption.
He said the products were smuggled in with no import documentation and registration numbers, adding that they could lead to dangerous health hazards to unsuspecting consumers who buy them.
Aboloma said the raid followed intelligence reports from sister security agencies and the cooperation of patriotic Nigerians, adding that the enforcement exercise would continue as a way of ensuring that only goods that meet the minimum requirements of the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) or other approved standards are sold in the country.
“The seized products do not meet our standard specifications, a critical part of which is the regulation on fortification with Vitamin A. There were no documentations to show how they got into the country and evidence of being registered under our electronic product registration scheme. They are not supposed to be on our shelves,” Aboloma said.
He said the sale of unfortified pasta, flour and sugar in the country is particularly worrisome considering that there is a government policy on their fortification with Vitamin A as a way of preserving the sight of Nigerians. “Flour, pasta, vegetable oil and sugar are foods that Nigerians consume regularly and if they are not fortified with the necessary vitamins as provided in the relevant standards, the Nigerian consumers would be prone to such illnesses as blindness and other sight problems,” he said.
Aboloma, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Market Surveillance, Suleiman Issa, added that the campaign to eradicate substandard imported sugar, flour and flour products in the country would continue, assuring Nigerians that wherever these products are found, they would be removed.
“These products have not been registered with SON for traceability and quality verification. I will advise Nigerians to look out for the registration numbers of SON and NAFDAC on imported food products before purchase. Any uncertified, unregistered and smuggled product is very risky and most likely unwholesome for consumption. Any pack of these imported non-conforming flour-based products found in our markets would be removed and the owners held accountable until they take us to the source”, he said.
The State Coordinator, Lagos Office III, SON, Mrs. Ngozi Ekwueme, warned that the consumption of the products that lack Vitamin A fortification puts the average Nigerian who patronises them the most at a risk of blindness.
The Manager, Globus Supermarket, whose warehouse was sealed, said he lacked knowledge of the implications of consuming these products.
He urged the Federal Government to do more enlightenment programmes to educate the vendors and consumers.