Suspected unfortified and impure sugar worth several millions of naira have been seized and evacuated by operatives of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria across major markets in Nigeria.
A statement from the office of the Director General, Mr. Osita Aboloma in Abuja said the nationwide exercise followed classified security report to the agency and consumer complaints on the flooding of the markets with suspected industrial and unfortified sugar being repackaged and sold as edible sugar in recent times.
According to him, the consumption of such unfortified and impure sugar has grave negative implications for the health of the citizens, particularly children and women.
The standards enforcement exercise was carried out simultaneously in Lagos, Ondo, Yobe, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Ekiti, Kwara among other States after weeks of surveillance activities by SON operatives with the support of security agencies, he said.
Mr. Aboloma stated further that the exercise was to ensure that edible sugar among other fortified food products in Nigeria are mandatorily fortified with Vitamin A and devoid of any harmful impurities as stipulated in the Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) for sugar and in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) convention on food fortification to protect vulnerable population especially children.
The exercise according to him, was also in line with the Federal Government’s policy on food fortification which stipulates that certain food products such as sugar, salt, flour and vegetable oil are fortified with essential micro nutrients to safe guard the health of its citizens especially women and children against the debilitating effect of deficiencies of trace elements in food.
In Lagos, three teams of SON operatives simultaneously combed various markets at Iddo, Ajah, Amuwo Odofin, Alabarago, Ojo and the Mile 12 markets respectively where substantial bags of suspected unfortified sugar were seized and evacuated by SON and security operatives. The Lagos operations were led by Engr. Bede Obayi, Director, Inspectorate and Compliance and the Coordinator, SON Surveillance, Intelligence and Monitoring Unit, Mr. Isa Suleiman while SON State Coordinators led the raid in their respective states.
The SON operatives across the Nation also found large consignments of empty sacks of popular made in Nigeria sugar, suspected to be used in the re-bagging of the unfortified imported sugar in very unhygienic environments. They were all evacuated during the raids.
According to Engr, Obayi, after one of the raids in Lagos “lack of necessary nutrients in food leads to stunted growth among children and increased child mortality, necessitating the careful selection of food vehicles like sugar, flour, edible oil and salt for fortification in Nigeria with the support of international agencies and development partners to ensure that Nigerian children and women have regular access to necessary nutrients”.
Also speaking in Lagos Mr. Suleiman Isa said “we have taken samples of supposed fortified sugar in many of the shops visited for laboratory tests and analysis to verify their claims of conformity to requirements of the relevant standards, particularly concerning fortification with necessary micronutrients. The final results will determine our next line of action”.