Stakeholders leading the #TransfatfreeNigeria have renewed calls for the Federal Government to accelerate the gazetting of the implementation of the Oils and Fats Regulation 2021 to protect Nigerians from the dangers of trans fatty acids (TFAs).
Speaking during a press conference to mark the 2021 World Food Day celebration today (October 25) in Abuja, the project adviser, TFA free campaign, Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Dr. Jerome Mafeni, stressed the need to fast-track the gazette already passed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Federal Ministry of Health. According to him, any day the gazetting of regulations is delayed is one day too many.
“The lives of every single Nigerian is precious and we need the government to value the lives of every Nigerian. The regulation of NAFDAC details the maximum content of trans-fat that should be found in food produced by the public. NAFDAC should regulate appropriate labelling of packaged food products. The limit that is set for trans-fat in food is 2grammes in 100grammes of oil.
“NAFDAC and Standards Organization of Nigerian (SON) have a role to enforce compliance in organisations found to have flouted this. Some people have suffered kidney and heart failure, without even knowing that it is connected to the food they consume. Government should ensure that we eliminate trans-fat from our society,” he said.
The executive director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, in his address, said that the elimination of trans-fat remained key to protecting the health and saving lives.
According to him, the role of dietary fats and oils in human nutrition is one of the most complex and controversial areas of investigation in nutrition science.
“Everyone must play their roles towards improved nutrition. We commend NAFDAC for its work on the draft regulation. We call on the Federal Ministry of Health to speed up the review and approval of the trans-fat regulation for quick passage by the Ministry of Justice.
“In May 2018, the WHO launched a comprehensive plan called ‘REPLACE’ to eliminate industrially-produced artificial trans-fat from global food supply in 2023,” he added.
In her remarks, the Nigeria coordinator for the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Joy Amafah, said the organisation which supports the Trans-fat Free Nigerian campaign seeks the rapid passage of the fats and oil regulation. She said this would reduce significantly the consumption of trans fat, decrease the frequency and seriousness of cardio-vascular illnesses and diminish the expenses related to cardio-vascular diseases. Trans-fat free campaign is justified in promoting public health.
She pointed out that, for Nigeria, the quick passage of the regulation will ensure that the Nigerian government safeguards the lives of millions of its citizens from this harmful fat; thereby, raising a healthy population for the future.
“Research has shown trans-fats can raise the risk of heart diseases three times more than saturated fats. We all know that saturated fats are equally unhealthy,” she added.
Similarly, the nutrition policy advisor, Resolve to Save Lives, Dr. Maryam Al-Mansur, stated that artificial trans-fat is a harmful compound that increases the risk of heart attack, cancers, obesity and death.
“We believe artificial trans-fat can be eliminated from the world by 2030 through collaborative efforts. We support the World Health Organisation’s action package that provides a step-by-step guide for the elimination of trans-fat from the global food supply.
“The benefits of eliminating trans-fat have been demonstrated by many countries who have passed trans-fat regulations. We commend the work of the GHAI with the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and its parent ministry, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in their efforts to pass the trans-fat regulation in Nigeria,” she added.