The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has commenced on a social marketing communication campaign in partnership with NAFDAC to increase awareness of Nigerian consumers to the importance of fortified foods in nutrition and health.

Speaking at the campaign launch at the Ojuwoye Market in Mushin, Lagos, GAIN Country Manager, Larry Umunna said GAIN is supporting NAFDAC in strengthening its regulatory ability to monitor and enforce compliance with legislation concerning implementation of the national food fortification program.

He said, ?It is the right of every Nigerian to consume fortified foods. Therefore it is important that the consumers begin to demand for fortified staples. The food industry must be challenged by the consumers to comply with the fortification standards. We hope that the campaign being flagged off today, will result in more educated and informed consumers who fully understand the benefits of fortified foods.?

A representative of the Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, the Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, NAFDAC, Mrs. Ugochukwu Mainasara, said the social marketing campaign demonstrates the commitment of stakeholders in ensuring the success of food fortification program in Nigeria, which is in alignment with NAFDAC?s core mandate of ?safeguarding the health of the nation?.

She said, ?NAFDAC is also responsible for ensuring that the mandatory food fortification policy of the government and support program from development partners is effectively implemented so as to achieve the desired objectives.?

While noting that the average Nigerian lacks the essential nutrients to encourage maximum health, Mainasara said, ?The prevalence of micro-nutrient deficiency in the population is still of public health significance. The staple diet of the rural poor still lacks the essential nutrients that will enable them to live healthy lives.?

President of the Association of Food, Beverage, Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Otunba Daramola, stressed the importance of food fortification, saying, ?We are very much concerned about the value of nutrients in food. We are in support of what GAIN is doing.?

Daramola called on producers of the four staple foods which most people consume in Nigeria ? flour, sugar, salt, vegetable oil ? to fortify their products. He said manufacturers have complied with the adherence for fortified foods and have even gone further to fortify more products outside the bracket, including fruit juices, malt drinks, and even cooking cubes.

Chairman of the National Fortification Alliance, Fred Chiazor, praised organizations like GAIN and Meverick, noting that all the achievements made in the area of food fortification has been as a result of concerted efforts from various organizations. Chiazor also noted that Nigeria was the first country in Africa to get international recognition for achieving Universal Salt Iodisation.

Food fortification has been found to be cost-effective and sustainable means of addressing malnutrition using vital food vehicles consumed daily by Nigerians.


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