The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in collaboration with the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has campaigned on eliminating toxic chemical trans fat in the country.
The World Health Organization has called for the elimination of industrially produced trans fat from our food supply chain by 2023. It is the first time WHO has called for the worldwide elimination of a chronic disease risk factor.
The Deputy Director ERA/FoEN, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi while speaking in Abuja today at a press briefing said, unless legislation is put in place to checkmate the food industry’s love and use of industrially-produced trans fats, another major public health crisis is on the horizon.
“We commend NAFDAC for the draft of the Fat and oil regulations and prepackaged foods, water and ice labelling regulations 2019 that is currently on its website for public input, we support this process and are ready to sustain our cordial relationship with the agency to see the regulations through to when we anticipate its governing council will approve them”.
Mr Oluwafemi, expressing displeasure over the various public health challenges the country is faced with, highlighted that Trans Fat is a slow poison in food chain as it kills more than 500,000 people around the world per year, and approximately 1200 Nigerians in 2010 died due to high intake of transfat.
“In the last decade we have watched with consternation and loathed how the food industry inundated our shores with industrially produced transfat to the detriment of the health of the citizens of the nation”.
” We already have enough challenges in public health. Cases of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and other sicknesses hitherto strange to our land have become rampant among Nigerians and particularly threatening the old”, he said.
“The tobacco industry, sugar industry is still on the prowl; we cannot add the burden by closing our eyes to the fact that what we eat now causes us illness and death”, he added.
However, ERA/FoEN demanded that the federal government declares an emergency in the food sector, commence massive awareness on the dangers of industrially produced transfat intake, NAFDAC reflect on all recommendations of civil society and critical stakeholders ensuring they are in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended standards and speedily approve the regulations for gazetting by the NAFDAC governing council.
Ogunrinde Victoria, Abuja.