Jasmine Richardson
Thu, Aug 31, 2023 10:50 PM

Examining the Impact of Food Fortification Compliance and Micronutrient Deficiencies in Nigeria

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Examining the Impact of Food Fortification Compliance and Micronutrient Deficiencies in Nigeria
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has collaborated with eHealth Africa and CISLAC to examine the impact of food fortification compliance and micronutrient deficiencies in Nigeria. The collaboration aims to stimulate advocacy, identify efforts, and provide actionable recommendations for industrial fortification. This article discusses the significance of food fortification, the role of various stakeholders, and the challenges faced in achieving compliance.

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has partnered with eHealth Africa and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) to comprehensively examine the impact of food fortification compliance and the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in Nigeria. This collaborative effort, supported by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), seeks to promote industrial fortification, identify existing efforts, and formulate actionable recommendations.

Despite Nigeria's rich agricultural resources, the country struggles with the challenge of micronutrient deficiencies, which have far-reaching socio-economic implications. Recognizing this, the government has implemented policies that encourage fortification of staple food items, as well as established regulatory bodies like the National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) to ensure compliance and monitor producers.

While private sector players have shown commendable commitment to fortification at the industrial level, it is essential for all producers to catch up in this regard. Collaboration among sectors is key to addressing the issue effectively.

The adoption of the Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI) championed by TechnoServe is facilitating advances in fortification processes. Food fortification is a cost-effective strategy that plays a pivotal role in reducing micronutrient deficiency, which affects over 2 billion people globally. It has proven to have positive long-term outcomes, especially in high-income countries, in controlling micronutrient deficiencies in women and children.

During the panel session, it was highlighted that fortification dates back to 1925, with Denmark and other countries fortifying milk with vitamins A and C. Over the years, fortification has not only reduced micronutrient deficiencies but also addressed specific disease burdens such as Goitre, thanks to the introduction of iodised salt.

Malnutrition remains a persistent barrier to Nigeria's growth. Traditional institutions, religious leaders, and households need to be educated on the importance of consuming fortified foods, dispelling misconceptions or connections with spiritual problems. Engaging with governments at all levels, especially local government areas, can also ensure market access and the provision of fortified food palliatives to communities.

Storage and handling of foods pose significant challenges to compliance. Improper storage and handling can lead to loss of nutritional value. Community education plays a vital role in ensuring retailers and wholesalers understand proper food handling practices to preserve nutrients and deliver them to end-users efficiently.

The Head of Research and Quality Assurance at Honeywell Flour highlighted the initial challenges faced by producers when fortification kicked off in 2002. Modifications to mills were necessary to accept external ingredients or premixes containing micronutrients, which incurred considerable costs. One major constraint hindering fortification compliance is the customs duty on certain micronutrient premixes, such as Vitamin A, which attracts a 20% duty rate as a finished product. Reviewing duty rates downwards would encourage better compliance and contribute to the ease of doing business.

The webinar, titled "Impact of Food Fortification Compliance: A Case for Industrial Fortification," shed light on the significant role compliance plays in reducing cognitive and physical development issues in children, emphasizing the importance of public health.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-31 News

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