ERA-FoEN urges NAFDAC to fast-track process of trans fat regulations

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to expedite action to ensure speedy approval of the “Pre-packaged Food, Water and Ice Labelling Regulation, 2019’’ and ‘’Fats & Oils Regulation, 2019’’ - two guidelines aimed at regulating the amount of Trans fatty acids in the nation’s food chain.

The group in a statement to mark the two-year anniversary of the R.E.P.L.A.C.E package of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply, said NAFDAC should fast-track the approval of the regulations, as part of responses to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO had on May 14, 2018, released the replace package, advising governments across the world that “eliminating trans fat is key to protecting health and saving lives.”

WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease. “Industrially produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food”, it further stated.

The REPLACE package specifically recommends six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply.

They include:

• Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change,

• Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils,

• Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats,

• Assess and monitor trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population,

• Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public, and

• Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.

In Nigeria, efforts for the regulation are being championed by NAFDAC which has produced two regulations currently awaiting its council approval, namely: “Fats and Oils Regulation, 2019 and ‘’Pre-packaged Food, Water and Ice Labelling Regulation, 2019’’.
“The world is currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic and scientific evidences have shown that people with existing CVD conditions are prone to complications if they contract COVID-19.

“More than ever before the nation needs to work fast on laws and policies will promote healthy lifestyles and approval of the regulations speedily will go a long way in that direction’’, Akinbode Oluwafemi ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director said.
The group however advised Nigerians to abstain from all foods laced with industrially produced trans fat oils.

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