El-kanis, HarvestPlus, GAIN develop brochure for VAC/VAM products labelling in Nigeria

As part of the overall effort to minimize micronutrient deficiency in Nigeria, a leading Agribusiness service, El-kanis and Partners has designed and developed brochure aimed at providing food producers and manufacturers with knowledge on how to procure, store, process, sell and market Vitamin A Maize (VAM) and Vitamin A Cassava (VAC) food products.

The project, sponsored by HarvestPlus and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) through the Commercialization of Biofortified Crops (CBC) project is targeted at  providing food producers and manufacturers with knowledge on how to procure, store, process, sell and market VAM and VAC food products.

Speaking during the stakeholders review session, the Managing Director El-kanis and Partners, Mr. Ben Ukpe noted that the main objective of the brochure is to establish the current regulatory frameworks and food industry guidelines on the marketing of VAC and VAM ingredients.

“El-kanis provided HarvestPlus and GAIN with the expertise to develop, implement, and maintain modern food safety management systems based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system principles.

“This is to create guideline documents for businesses involved in production, processing and marketing of VAC and VAM, which we have also identified authorities involved in the creation and endorsement of new standards and regulations in Nigeria.” Ukpe said.

Mr. Ukpe decried a situation where most consumers make purchases without taking note of this information perhaps because they do not understand the information provided due to the complexity of the data.

He revealed that as at the time of developing the document, Nigeria had no laws regulating products of Vitamin A cassava and Vitamin A Maize and also acknowledged draft biosafety bill  before the National Assembly for consideration.

“The draft bill advocates compulsory labeling of food items containing products of biotechnology to protect consumers’ right to know. When the bill is passed, NAFDAC will be the enforcing agency.” Mr. Ukpe said.

On the purpose of the brochure, the MD of El-kanis and Partners said it will ensure that VAC/VAM food labeling and marketing is effective in Nigeria, provide food processors and producers with means for conveying information of the nutrient content of enriched foods on the label; encourage the use of sound nutrition principles in the formulation of VAC/VAM foods which would benefit public health as well as provide opportunity to include VAC/VAM nutrition information on the label.

He also explained that the brochure will ensure that Vitamin A Maize (VAM),Vitamin A Cassava (VAC) VAC/VAM food labeling does not describe a product or present information about it that is in any way false, misleading, deceptive, or insignificant in any manner and to ensure that no nutrition claim is made without nutrition labelling.

In his response, president Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition Initiative(CAFSANI) , Professor Olugbenga Ogunmoyela commended the brochure and enjoined processors to explore the rich content of the brochure.

He also asked HarvestPlus to make the hardcopy available at ADP and CBC desk offices for easy accessibility.

Speaking, Goodluck Ogu, Country Manager, Commercialization of Biofortified Crops Program noted that to assist  consumers put Vitamin A cassava and Vitamin A Maize information into consideration in their purchase, prior knowledge is required, adding that such knowledge could enhance implementation of the understood and remembered information in making a food choice.

“One way through which this information can be accessed is food labeling. This can assist in curbing health risks by helping people make better food purchase decisions and adopt healthier eating patterns.” Mr. Ogu said.

In her presentation, Jenny Walton, Demand Creation, HarvestPlus Washington revealed that information about nutrients enriched foods will ensures that the health information gap between nutrients enriched food producers and nutrients enriched food consumers is bridged which she said will further enable consumers make well-informed eating choices.

Meanwhile, the brochure developed by El-kanis and Partners has different labeling and information strategies employed to enhance better food purchasing choices.

The brochure includes provision of nutrient content information using either back-of-pack product labels or diagrams to indicate important nutrients and enumeration of ingredients and its quantities on restaurant menus.

El-kanis food safety and development programmes has provided high-quality professional services to help more than 20 companies including Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSE) apply national food safety standards and adapt sustainable business models, in which one of the businesses received 2020 National SMSE Award from the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. EL-kanis programs include food safety assessments, outgrower projects, agribusiness training and input supplies.

El-kanis worked with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,NUJ, Tertiary institutions, NAFDAC and other sister regulatory agencies during the development of the brochure which can be downloaded free at:

https://elkanisgroup.com/project/regulatory-review-nigeria-food-labeling-and-marketing-provisions-for-nutrient-enriched-crops-vitamin-a-maize-vam-and-vitamin-a-cassava-vac /.hh