Stakeholders in the food industry have advocated the enactment of adequate policies to ensure food fortification and reduce malnutrition in Nigeria.
Speaking at the National Fortification Alliance (NFA) meeting in Ikeja, Lagos, the director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Sherif Olagunju, said mandatory policies exist in Nigeria for industries to add vitamins and minerals to all wheat flour, maize flour, sugar and vegetable oil, as well as add iodine to salt that are processed or sold in the country.
He, however, explained the several challenges in the implementation of the policies, including monitoring effective compliance of industries and the fact that all populations in the country, particularly in rural areas, do not easily access the fortified food items.
"This meeting was supported with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Established in 2004 under the chairmanship of the National Planning Commission (NPC), the NFA is mandated to mobilise stakeholders and provide guidance for effective implementation of food fortification programmes to improve the nutritional status and health of the populations in Nigeria.
"Food fortification, a process of adding vitamins and minerals to improve the nutritional quality of processed foods, is praised globally as one of the most effective public health interventions.
"Over the years, the NFA has been instrumental in supporting the government of Nigeria to develop, implement and monitor several food fortification policies to promote the nutritional status and health of Nigerians," he said.
African regional nutrition director of Hellen Keller International (HKI), Akoto Osei, said the objective of the meeting was to discuss ways to strengthen the NFA, the present status of large scale food fortification programmes and deliberate on the potential of including bouillon cubes as a food vehicle in fortification.