The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and control is a Federal Government Agency established by Decree No. 15 of 1993 and the only legitimate establishment given the authority to control and regulate the importation, exportation, manufacture, distribution, sale and advertisement of food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices, chemical and packaged water. NAFDAC, apart from its inspectorate activities, product registration laboratory analysis of products to check quality standards, also offer advisory and consultative assistance to all interest groups who are directly involved with any of the six groups of regulated products offered to the consumer conform with requirement standards of quality, wholesomeness, efficacy and safety. In conjunction with the Federal Government NAFDAC has put up strict measure to ensure that the use of potassium bromate for any purpose is stopped through he following ways:
- For the past three years, the agency had paid serious attention to flour and bakery products. The agency convened a consultative meeting with flour Millers all over the country during which an identified violation in the milling industry was detected; and that is why there is continued use of potassium bromate despite the ban.
The adverse effects to the human body of the consumption of potassium bromate on a cumulative basis were highlighted to the flour millers. This prompted the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JEFCA) to canvass for the use of ascorbic acid (also known s Vitamin C) as an alternative flour improver which also gives optimum baking performance, which flour millers complied with.
- To ensure compliance, NAFDAC went a step further. In 1977, all NAFDAC state Inspectorate offices including Abuja FCT held consultative meeting in conjunction with Roche Nigeria plc and the Nigerian Flour Mill plc for the purpose of teaching the bakers how to use vitamin C in replacement for potassium bromate in baking.
Three representatives from Master Bakers Association from each state of the federation were invited to the two day training programme which was handled by renowned resource persons and professionals in the milling and baking industries on a Trainer Trainee Basis.
The trained bakers were directed to go back to their respective location and organize similar training sessions to impart the knowledge they have acquired to their colleagues.
- Having given so much to the flour millers and the bakers in terms of knowledge, advice, monetary expenses, time and energy, the next justifiable action the agency is embarking on now is to ascertain if they are appreciative of these sacrifices by showing simple compliance.
The exercise going on currently is the legal sanction by the agency on the use of Ascorbic Acid as an alternative to potassium bromate. The Flour Millers Association of Nigeria with the Master Bakers Association of Nigeria met and resolved between the two parties that, Ascorbic Acid, one of the approved flour improver would be added to flour by the millers at source. The bakers were asked to report any default flour miller who fails to comply with this directive for disciplinary action.
- The agency through their state Inspectorate Offices in Kaduna, Lagos, including Abuja conducted laboratory analysis to find out if this banned additive is still being incorporated in the products. Any producer, miller or bake detected will receive the full weigh of the law.
- It is not worthy that a person convicted under the NAFDAC Decree No. 15 of 1993 and under any of these regulations prohibiting the use of additives will be liable to a fine of N100, 000,000 or one year imprisonment or both.
- Finally, it is the intention of the agency to go on with this sampling exercise until every flour miller or baker is compelled to comply with these regulations, thereby guarantee the safety for consumption of flour and bakery products in Nigeria.