Distributors and retailers of foreign made fruit juices are feeling more heat as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) spreads its enforcement tentacles across the country to remove the prohibited items from the markets.
The agency spread its enforcement wings to various markets in Lagos State to “mop-up” all imported fruit juices.
Speaking with the media after the raids, NAFDAC, Deputy Director, Investigation & Enforcement Directorate, Mr. Francis Ononiwu, lamented the influx of imported fruit juices in the country, blaming the absence of the Agency’s staff at the nation’s seaports for the problem.
Ononiwu appealed to the Federal Government to bring back the agency to the ports so they can interdict counterfeit and banned products before they enter the country and the various markets.
“We are all aware that most of these products come through the sea ports and NAFDAC is not on ground there, definitely, we cannot effectively stop the products from entering. That is a major challenge. If we are there the quantity will be much more reduced or eliminated. Federal government should reconsider taking NAFDAC back to the ports”
The Deputy Director said that the ‘mop-up’ exercise was going on nationwide and was meant to create an enabling environment for local manufacturers of fruit juices in the country.
“These imported products are not registered by NAFDAC; they are unwholesome and fake and have been banned by the Federal Government. We don’t expect to see imported fruit juices in our markets today because we have enough fruit juice manufactured and produced here. We are also trying to protect our local industry as well as encouraged them to utilise our farm produces thereby boosting our economy.”
He explained that foreign fruit juices are not produced under supervised good manufacturing practice and therefore are harmful to the health of consumers.
Ononiwi said that merchants found selling imported fruit juices would be prosecuted in line with the appropriate sanctions set in the agency’s regulations.
Briefing the media during an enforcement exercise in Gbagada area of Lagos, Team Leader, Investigation and Enforcement Directorate, Mr. Carolly Ngobiri, said that the exercise was in line with a circular of 19th December from the Directorate, directing that an urgent visit to all markets and supermarkets across the country be embarked upon, to mop-up these items.
“We are here to carry out one of NAFDAC’s mandate; to make sure that that all foreign juices are removed from the market. We have given them a deadline from now to Dec. 31 to stop their sales and remove them from the shelves.
“But in order to ensure that these are totally removed, we have started mopping up all the juices all over the country.
“By Dec. 31, we do not want to see any imported juice in Nigeria.
“At these places that we have gone to carry out our assignment, we have taken the items, documented them and invited the owners to come to our office for further interrogation,” he said.
Ngobiri advised consumers to always check the production and expiry dates, as well as NAFDAC registration on all juice products before purchase.