TFAs: Campaign Coalition Visits FCCPC, Honours Irukera

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L-R: The technical advisor, Trans Fatty Acids Campaign, Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Dr. Jerome Mafeni; country head, NHED, Dr. Emmanuel Sokpo; executive director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, Akinbode Oluwafemi; country coordinator, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Joy Amafah; executive commissioner, operations, Dr. Adamu Abdulahi; and FCCPC officials, Kelechi Oko and Dr Nkechi Mba during the coalition’s advocacy visit on the commission in Abuja.

The Trans-fat Free Nigeria campaign coalition has urged the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) to help uphold consumers’ rights to safe and healthy foods and right to accurate information on food labels so they can make informed decisions and stay healthy.

The executive director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi who spoke at the advocacy visit to FCCPC on Thursday in Abuja, reinstated the need for FCCPC to follow up with the relevant bodies responsible for the draft regulation on Fats and Oils and the ‘Pre-Packaged Food, Water and Ice (Labelling) Regulations 2019 to ensure it is passed into law. 

He described FCCPC as a major stakeholder towards achieving a trans-fat free Nigeria hence the need for them to come on board and become a TFA champion.

In his presentation titled ‘Why it is important to regulate Transfatty Acids (TFA) in Nigeria’, the project adviser for TFA Elimination, Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Dr. Jerome Mafeni stated that trans fats had been linked to increases in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers, dementia and death.  According to new estimates by the World Health Organization, over 250, 000 persons die yearly resulting from complications associated with the consumption of foods high in trans fats.  This statistic has led to the call for the global elimination of industrially produced trans-fat by 2023.

“Industrially produced Trans Fatty Acids (iTFAs) are unsaturated fats chemically manufactured via passage of hydrogen through oils for them to be used as solid fats.  Bacteria produce naturally occurring TFAs in the guts of animals (ruminants – cows, goats, sheep etc.), but the vast majority of TFAs are produced industrially by hydrogenation.  iTFAs have been a commercially very successful product, becoming very popular in the diet during the 20th century.  WHO analysed iTFAs’ health impact and found that iTFAs increase overall mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality (death due to heart and blood system-related conditions) .Over half a million deaths per year are attributable to iTFA consumption. Therefore, WHO recommends that TFAs, both natural and industrial, do not exceed 1 per cent of energy intake per day,” Mafeni said.

iTFAs are common in baked goods, pre-packaged foods, and some cooking oils, are a significant contributor to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) worldwide, estimated to contribute to over half a million deaths every year. iTFAs have no known health benefits and can readily and safely be replaced in foods without impacting their consistency and taste.

While installing the FCCPC executive vice chairman, Babatunde Irukera as the Trans-fat free Nigeria champion, the Nigeria in-country coordinator cardiovascular health program, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Joy Amafah, charged FCCPC to uphold the consumers’ right to healthy foods by ensuring that the TFA regulation was put in place.

Amafah said, “We are positive you will continue to use your good offices to promote and advance the objectives of the campaign towards eliminating or at least reducing the transfat contents in our food supplies to the minimum standards thereby protecting the health of the consumers.

“We are also hopeful that the campaign could leverage on the platform of this agency to look into any appearances of false claims on food products to misguide consumers who may be unaware of the underlining health impact of such claims.

“It therefore gives me great pleasure on behalf of the coalition partners for the trans-fat free Nigeria campaign and the Global health advocacy incubator to now confer on you a Policy Champion on our campaign”.

She added: “we are very excited to have you accept this important role and we look forward to continued collaboration with your office”.

In his response after his inauguration as #TransfatfreeNigeria champion, the FCCPC executive vice chairman, Babatunde Irukera accepted to uphold the tenets of the Transfat free Nigeria Campaign toward achieving the elimination of trans fatty acids from foods of consumers.

Irukera who was represented by the FCCPC executive commissioner, operations, Dr Adamu Abdulahi assured that the commission would do its best to provide the needed support to the campaign and collaborate with them on related areas pertaining to the mandate of the agency.

A statement by CAPPA’s program manager, Prudence Eboagwu-Ijah, said the TFA Coalition comprises Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), among others.

Oluchi Okorafor
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