NIGERIA – The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has noted that Nigeria has already completed the process of eliminating trans-fat from the country’s food supply chain.

The organization announced this at the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) fourth “Countdown to 2023” report.

The report is an annual collection of the advancements made in the battle against trans-fat on a global scale since the global call was issued in 2018.

With more than 20 countries passing best practices regulation on trans-fat elimination, Nigeria, a country with a strategic role on the continent, cannot afford to let her chance to save Nigerians from preventable deaths slide on the slaughtering slab of bureaucracy.

When speaking on a panel at the launch, Dr. Eva Edwards, Director of Products Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN) at NAFDAC, told the international audience that “the scope of Nigeria’s rules to remove trans-fat covers edible fats and oils and food containing fats and oils.”

“The regulation also has a complimentary regulation on prepackaged food labeling which are all in the final stages and waiting for approval,” she said.

Trans-fat is an unhealthy fat that lowers good cholesterol while raising bad cholesterol.

There are two types of trans fats: ruminant trans-fats, which are naturally occurring and present in meat and dairy products.

They develop organically when microorganisms in an animal’s gut break down grass. They have no effect on health, hence they are unimportant.

“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,” the WHO noted.

The WHO stated that everyone has a responsibility to play in the elimination of trans fat in the global food supply chain, noting that there are only 11 months left on the calendar for action.

The Director General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that there are three specific tasks for the next phase which include “government of countries around the world taking urgent action to implement best practices in their countries, collaboration of food manufacturers, and more work from civil society organizations to advocate more and keep governments on their toes”.

Similarly, Dr. Tom Frieden, President of Resolve to Save Lives, said “It’s not a time for more studies, it is a time for action” as he reeled out the dangers of trans-fat consumption and why it has no place in our food system.

As per the WHO report, 2.8 billion people are now safeguarded worldwide thanks to 43 nations that have adopted best-practice laws to combat trans fats in food.

However, despite significant progress, this still exposes 5 billion people to the devasting health effects of trans fat, making the global target for its complete eradication in 2023 now unachievable.

In Africa, only South Africa has had a best-practice regulation in place since 2011. Nigeria is expected to pass a best-practice policy soon, according to WHO. Ethiopia and Cabo Verde, already have complementary measures.

Notably, none of the East African nations have best-practice TFA policies and are all in the red.

Kenya has a national strategy that calls for the elimination of TFA, but it has failed to implement the necessary procedures and set up a monitoring system for its restrictions.

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