Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of NAFDAC

Why US, EU markets reject Nigerian foods and agricultural commodities ─NAFDAC

*National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control urges the relevant government agencies on continued sensitisation of food processors, handlers and exporters through training programmes, workshops and seminars on current food safety management requirements, to ensure that products are safe and of good quality to gain consumers’ confidence and acceptability both in Nigerian and global markets

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the persistent rejection of Nigerian foods and other agricultural commodities because of apparent low quality, the leadership of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has criticised the United States (US) and European Union (EU) member countries.

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of NAFDAC, who reportedly made this remark against the foreign authorities, however, encouraged all regulatory authorities at the country’s ports charged with guaranteeing high-quality imports and exports to find immediate and long-term solutions to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) Border Rejection Notifications on Nigerian food items.

Nigerian foods and agricultural products

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Adeyeye, speaking on ‘Quality and Safety of Export Food Trade’ at a virtual technical roundtable with other Federal Government agencies, including the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPIS), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria (IPAN), among others, lamented the resultant negative image the repeated rejection of Nigerian agricultural commodities by the EU has caused the country.

Sayo Akintola, Resident Media Consultant of NAFDAC, in a statement issued Sunday, August 1, in Abuja, FCT, said Adeyeye noted that the stakeholders meeting was appropriate in view of the volume of food and agricultural commodities from Nigeria that is currently facing challenges at entry points in some countries in Europe and the United States of America where they have been repeatedly rejected.

The health regulatory agency stated that the development has become a great issue of concern.

She stated: “NAFDAC has a statutory responsibility to safeguard public health through the execution of its mandate.

“We are charged with the responsibility to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled and packaged water, chemicals generally referred to as NAFDAC regulated products.’’

NAFDAC is designated as World Trade Organisation/Sanitary and Phytosanitary Enquiry Point in Nigeria on Food Safety to facilitate international trade, and respond to enquiries on safety standards, regulations, and guidelines on food trade in Nigeria, Adeyeye said.

According to her, in the international market, Nigeria’s products meant for the export market are faced with the presence of contaminants, such as pesticide residues, notoriously dichlorvos and other impurities, exceeding the maximum permitted level and some with inadequate packaging and labeling, which she disclosed had caused a lot of products rejections.

She also said that the global market is competitive in nature, and only welcomes products of high quality with relevant certifications and quality packaging that is environmentally friendly, to trade globally.

The problem of quality, standard, certification, and appropriate packaging for Made-in-Nigeria products destined for export has been an issue in the international market and there is need to address the issue of rejections, Adeyeye declared.

She as well noted that through earlier intervention by NAFDAC, it was agreed that these products be subjected to 100 percent pre-export testing and issuance of Health Certificate to products with satisfactory limits before the European Union further verify at their border control points.

Adeyeye further disclosed that her Agency had analyzed the RASFF alert from the EU and observed that most rejected products by the EU were smuggled out and not certified by NAFDAC nor the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services at the ports.

This, she said, calls for proper collaboration and synergy among all agencies of government to curb the indecent behaviour of some exporters and ensure only quality and certified products are exported.

Adeyeye stated: “We need to close gaps and work together to prevent regulatory gaps from being exploited by unscrupulous traders and their collaborators.

“There must be convergence for all regulatory activities especially at the Ports of Exit as a starting point before we begin cleaning up and capacitating the honest operators and traders within the country.”

Based on the RASFF alert received from EU, she said NAFDAC had sensitised food processors, handlers and exporters through training programmes, workshops and seminars on current Food Safety Management requirements, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Hygiene Practices (GHP), Risk Analysis to ensure that products are safe and of good quality, to gain consumers’ confidence and acceptability in Nigeria and international export markets.

She explained that “effective assessments of export products are very key and basic information that may need to be considered in the accompanying shipping documents include Certificate of Radiation, Health certificate, Sanitary and Phytosanitary certificate, Evidence of fumigation of vessels and evidence of risk-based inspection on food Safety, must all be certified by the appropriate and designated competent authorities having current scope-testing accreditation.”

Adeyeye also admonished the participants, especially the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to be awake to their responsibility as the country’s gatekeepers by ensuring the availability of quality-assured, safe, wholesome and efficacious products.

“We have a huge collective responsibility: to ensure the availability of quality-assured, safe, wholesome and efficacious products; and NAFDAC as an enquiring point for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) for food safety, and other Departments and parastatals of FMARD for plants and animal health and safety with Standards Organisation of Nigeria for Technical Barriers in Trade; products and services for export should meet quality certification of the importing countries to avoid or reduce to the barest minimum the rejection of made-in Nigeria products in the international market,” she said.

She added: “We should talk together, understand one another, agree to work together, and come up with a work plan for whatever we agreed to do together.

“We must turn over a new leaf for the sake of our beloved country!”

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