The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commenced an aggressive nationwide evacuation of unfortified food products in the country.
The Director General of SON, Osita Aboloma, yesterday said the exercise was in line with both the present administration and international organisation’s food fortification programme aimed at ensuring that Nigerian children and women have access to basic nutrients and vitamins for good health and development.
However, SON enforcement team for Alabarago markets and its environs in Lagos, led by Bede Obayi, yesterday seized loads of unfortified bagged granulated sugar from the various markets.
Speaking during the exercise, Aboloma disclosed that the exercise was conducted simultaneously in the 36 states in the federation, including Abuja.
”We have decided to go all out to ensure that the standards for flour, pasta, sugar and salt (food fortified products) meet the minimum requirement of the standards. After being consumed by Nigerians, we must get the quality nutrients we deserve.
“Children and women suffer malnutrition when these food items are not certified. Lack of fortification of food also leads to stunted growth and child mortality and this is why these fortified foods have been supported by the international agencies as partners to ensure that Nigerian children and women grow like other children and women in other parts of the world,” he said.
“These food vehicles have been carefully selected because they are food items consumed by every Nigerian. These products are smuggled into the Nigerian markets, and this is why our Inspectorate and Compliance department is all out to ensure that wherever these products are being smuggled into in the country, we do the needful,” he said.
“We are conducting massive evacuation so that they do not find their way into the Nigerian market. We are targeting all the entry points. We have our comb on all major markets to ensure that Nigerians are protected from these unfortified foods,” the SON DG said.
He added further that failing to address malnutrition would continue to negatively impact, not only on the health and wellbeing of Nigerians, but also on the country’s economic growth and prosperity.
Meanwhile, SON and other government representatives have declared their commitment to improving the regulatory environment around food fortification, pledging to review potential impediments to greater fortification and increase enforcement and incentive mechanisms.
Aboloma disclosed that SON is currently working with the National Agency For Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and international partners to ensure that the fortification programme of the present administration is a success.
“We have confirmed that there are unfortified food items in the market and our mandate is to remove them from circulation because we have agreed that those products should not be in our market because it is a great concern to us as a standards body.
“If allowed to permeate, it means the essence of the fortification is defeated. It is a careful programme of the federal government to ensure that Nigerians get value for their money. Nigerian children should develop like children in other parts of the globe. They should grow normally without any defect,” he added.