The Federal Ministry of Health and the National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) drafted the Fats and Oil Regulation 2019, to safeguard Nigerians from avoidable and untimely illnesses and death resulting from the consumption of foods containing Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics indicate that more than 36 million people die annually from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which accounts for 63% of all global deaths. Among these, CardioVascular Diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death, accounting for 17.5 million deaths annually. In this category, high blood pressure leads as a risk factor. CVDs are disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and they include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, among other conditions.
Status of the Fats and Oils Regulation
To ensure Nigeria joins the rest of the world in limiting Trans Fatty Acids in its food chain, the NAFDAC, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health in 2022 updated two existing regulations namely, the Fats and Oils and the Pre-packaged Ice and Water Labelling Regulation. These have been passed by the Federal Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Justice for gazette.
Fats and Oil Regulation 2019 Simplified
The Fats and Oils regulation consists of eighteen schedule that breaks down the classifications, definitions and specifications of fats and oils.
The regulation shall apply to all foods containing fats and oils that are manufactured, imported, exported, advertised, sold, distributed, or used in Nigeria. It states that no person shall manufacture, package, import, export, advertise, distribute, sell or use packaged fats and oils as specified in the First Schedule which are (classifications, definitions and specifications of fats and oils like coconut oil, Palm oil, maize oil and any kind of oil) to these regulation in Nigeria unless, it has been registered in accordance with the provision of the regulation.
Under Vitamin A Fortification, it stated that, no person shall manufacture, package, import, export, advertise, distribute, or sell any vegetable oil as specified in Schedule I to the Regulations, unless it is fortified with Vitamin A to a level not below 20,000 I.U./kg. On Sourcing for fats and oils, it stated that, Edible fats and oil shall be sourced from vegetable and animal origin and may contain amounts of other lipids as phosphatides, unsaponifiable matter and free acids naturally present in the fats and oils and animal origin and shall be produced from animal in good health at the time of slaughter and certified fit for human consumption by the appropriate authority. Vegetable oils shall be derived from the botanical source after which they are named and indicated under the Schedules for individual oils.
Furthermore, the regulation directed that edible fats and oils may contain additional permitted colours, provided that the added colours do not deceive or mislead the consumer by concealing damage or low quality or by making the products appear to be greater than their value. The edible fats and oils may contain approved natural flavours and their identical synthetic equivalents and other approved synthetic flavours for the purpose of restoring natural flavours, provided that the added flavours do not deceive or mislead the consumer by concealing damage or low quality by making the products appear to be greater than their actual value.
Meanwhile, edible fats and oils may contain permitted preservatives, antifoaming agent and crystallization inhibitor, the use, and limits of which shall be as prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to these Regulations, provided that, the fats and oils shall not contain any food additives or food colours when sold as virgin fats and oils. It stated that no person shall sell, import, export, produce, market, store or distribute to the public, edible fats and oils that contain impurities such as heavy metals, petroleum products, foreign particles or any other substance not indicated in the list of additives for the category of food and naturally occurring impurities like Gossypol. It affirmed that no edible fats and oils shall contain any foreign matter or have rancid odour or taste.
For the labelling of Fats and Oils which in addition to compliance with the Pre-Packaged Food (Labelling) Regulations 2019, the following shall apply: A refined oil obtained from a single botanical source shall in addition to the brand name and the specific name of the particular oil present, be so indicated on the label. For example, “Refined Sunflower Seed Oil”, also refined oil obtained from multi botanical sources, where two or more oils are blended together, shall be so indicated on the label provided that the specific names of the oils are listed in the list of ingredients. For example, “Refined Sunflower Seed Oil Blend” or “Refined Vegetable Oil Blend,” and it posits that, no person shall sell a mixture of animal fat and vegetable fat unless the label of that mixture carries the declaration “Contains Animal Fats”
Forfeiture after conviction – a person convicted of an offence under the regulation shall forfeit to the Federal Government: (a) any asset or property constituting proceeds derived from or obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offence; (b) any of the person’s property or instrumentalities used in any manner to commit or to facilitate the commission of the offence. (2) In this section, “proceeds” means any property derived or obtained, directly or indirectly, through the commission of the offence.
It concludes by stating that, unless the context otherwise requires, “animal fats” means the fats entirely rendered from fresh, clean, sound fatty tissue of healthy animal at the time of slaughter, and fit for human consumption as certified by a competent appropriate authority and they may contain additives the limits of which shall be as prescribed in “Seventeenth Schedule” (permitted additives, which are the permitted colours for the purpose of restoring natural colour lost in processing or for the purpose of standardizing colour, as long as the added colour does not deceive or mislead the consumer by concealing damage or low quality or by making the product appear to be of greater than actual value).
“Cold pressed oils” means oils obtained, without altering the oil, by mechanical procedures only, e.g., expelling or pressing, without the application of heat. They may have been purified by washing with water, settling, filtering, and centrifuging only.
However, the Fats and Oils Regulation 2005 was repealed, and the repeal of the regulation, as specified in Regulations 12(1) stated that it shall not affect anything done or purported to be done under the repealed Regulation and will therefore be cited as Fats and Oils Regulations 2019.