THE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ban the importation, production and distribution of products with Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) content.
Dr Fancis Faduyile, the National President of MNA, made the appeal in his address of welcome at the launch of “Improving the Cardiovascular Health of Nigerians (ICON)’’ project on Wednesday in Abuja.
The event was organised by Dr Tonnie Okoro, the Strategic Programme Manager of NMA.
Faduyile said that stakeholders must respond to the clarion call by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to all nations to take conscientious steps to eliminate or restrict the consumption of all forms of industrially produced TFAs.
“We hope that NAFDAC finds the courage to effectively ban the importation, production and distribution of food with TFAs content within the Nigerian markets going forward.
“There are overwhelming body of evidence of the harmful effects of TFAs in our diets; justifying the rationale for the outright ban or at least a monitored restriction to not more than two per cent in all publicly available foods in Nigeria.
“As a responsible citizen and the true custodian of the health of Nigerians, the NMA has birthed a sustainable vehicle to be a platform through which it can continuously engage all stakeholders.
“And also key players in the nutrition industry who have relevant roles to play to end the era of TFAs in Nigeria. This passion led to the birth of the ICON project,’’ he said.
Responding, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Christiana Adeyeye, commended NMA for its unwavering efforts in making relevant recommendations to the government in the interest of the nation.
Adeyeye, who was represented by Mr Ummulkhairi Bobboi, the Assistant Director, Food Safety in the agency, said that NAFDAC has a statutory responsibility to safeguard public health, through the execution of its mandate.
She said that concerns had been raised for several decades that TFAs are among the major causes of cardiovascular diseases.
Adeyeye, however, stressed that some meat and dairy products contain small amount of naturally occurring trans fat.
“Much of the trans fat in the food supply are created through an industrial process that solidifies vegetable oils and increases shelf lives of the foods and contain them.
“Consumption is now associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
“The removal of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, containing industrially produced trans-fat from the food supply, is now recommended by WHO as a public health intervention for reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases.
“To this end, NAFDAC is prepared to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders in order to come out with clear-cut policies and action plan to mitigate the public health effects of consumption of food with high level of TFAs,’’ she said.
According to the NAFDAC boss, the agency intervention in reducing the menace of cardiovascular disease is in the provision of revised fat and oil regulations in 2018 and the draft nutrition, health and other food claims regulations.
She stressed that there was the need for consumer awareness and education to enlighten the public on the adverse effects of TFAs and the need to avoid TFA rich food items.
NAN reports that the launch of the NMA-ICON project attracted relevant stakeholders from the country’s health sector to brainstorm on the way forward for TFAs and health of Nigerians.