…Sets up c’ttee to oversee reduction in TFAs to 2%
By Michael Eboh & Tochukwu Maxwell
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Friday, set up a Technical Working Group, TWG, to eliminate or drastically reduce Trans Fatty Acids in food supply chains in Nigeria to not more than two per cent, which it said was responsible for the deaths of many Nigerians.
Speaking during the inauguration of the TWG in Abuja, President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, disclosed that it had been medically proven that Trans-fatty Acids was one of the major culprits in the causation of many of the heart-related deaths, such as sudden death syndrome, which had taken a serious toll on Nigerians.
This, according to him, necessitated the decision of the NMA to prioritise the elimination or restriction of TFA in our food supply chain to two per cent.
He explained that the multi-stakeholders Technical Working Group was expected to stand until Nigeria began to reverse the losses due to sudden deaths and others traceable to non-communicable diseases, NCD, generally and particularly to TFA.
Faduyile said the NMA had noted the hindrance experienced by various stakeholders and agencies of government in achieving the targets for the elimination of TFA within the timelines, adding that the association would continue to mobilize resources to support the TWG and TFA elimination restriction effort.
He said, “It is my pleasure to formally inaugurate this TWG today and to charge you never to relent in making the grave sacrifices to achieve the necessary review, gazette and implement new policy and food standards that restrict TFAs to not more than two per cent in all publicly available foods in Nigeria within the next 18 months.
“Of special note is the need to procure the Gas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization Detector, GC-FID, for evaluating the TFA contents in food samples for the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC. We shall represent to the National Assembly and partners to see the possibility of helping NAFDAC to secure the machines since it is a rate-limiting step in generating local in-country evidences in pursuit of this TFA Elimination restriction policy.
“We also note that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, needs to have the Standard Reference guide to review TFA limits for manufacturers/importers going forward. We shall continue to work assiduously in these regards till TFA-related deaths abate in Nigeria.”
Faduyile, further urged civil society groups and the media members of the TWG to target mass awareness creation in their work from 2019 to enable the group generate the necessary momentum to galvanise public buy-in and support to achieve the policy goal, earlier than envisaged.
He also called on every agency and organisation to do all they can to re-align their 2019 budgeting and programming activities to prioritized the work of the TWG towards elimination or restriction of the contents of TFAs in our food.