Members of the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria have said they are storming the Lagos office of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to protest against the ban on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in sachets.
According to information gathered, the association said the protest would hold today (Tuesday) at NAFDAC Office on the Lagos-Oshodi Apapa Expressway, Isolo, Lagos.
“We are extending our invitation to you to attend the peaceful protest on NAFDAC’s ban on alcoholic beverage drinks in sachets and pet bottles,” the notice said.
The association’s reaction came shortly after the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye,announced on Monday that the agency would begin the enforcement of the ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.
Adeyeye also told The PUNCH that NAFDAC would collaborate with the National Union of Road Transport Workers to enforce the ban.
She said, “We intend to work with the NURTW to ensure the enforcement of the banned products. We surely will work on that, and ensure that they are stopped and phased out.”
The NAFDAC DG, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, said the agency had commenced the enforcement of the ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.
“As of January 31st, 2024, there is no alcoholic beverage in these categories that are registered by NAFDAC. I also want to inform you that the agency has started enforcement actions to enforce the implementation of this policy. The window period given to manufacturers by NAFDAC to sell off all alcoholic drinks in this category elapsed on January 31st, 2024.
“To this end on the first day, after the elapse of the window period, the agency commenced nationwide enforcement actions on February 1st, 2024 to enforce the implementation of the new policy,” she said.
She noted that during enforcement actions, it was discovered that some manufacturers of these banned products were still in production of the products, and still had stacks of both finished products and packaging materials of the products in their possession.
“This situation is of course not acceptable, and the agency views this as flagrant disobedience to the laws of Nigeria. NAFDAC views this matter seriously, and will engage all statutory means, which may include prosecution, to deal with the matter.
“I want to use this medium to ask all holders of alcohol in sachets, PET and glass bottles, empty sachets, PET bottles, empty glass bottles, and other packaging materials of these banned products to immediately report to the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate of NAFDAC for hand-over of same to NAFDAC for destruction, to prevent sterner measures including prosecution,” she declared.
In January 2022, NAFDAC stopped the registration of alcoholic beverages in sachet and small volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml.
This decision was based on the recommendation of a high-powered committee of the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and the Industry represented by the Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers, Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria, in December 2018.
As a result of the decision reached at the end of the committee meeting, producers of alcohol in sachets and small volume agreed to reduce the production by five per cent with effect from January 31st, 2022, while ensuring the product is completely phased out in the country by January 31st, 2024.
“NAFDAC committed to ensuring that the validity of renewal of already registered alcoholic products in the affected category does not exceed the year 2024.
“NAFDAC is resolutely committed to the strict implementation of the regulations and regulatory measures towards safeguarding the health of Nigerians, particularly the vulnerable youth, against the dangers of reckless consumption of alcohol,” Adeyeye assured.
The don warned that the people mostly at risk of the negative effects of consumption of the banned pack sizes of alcoholic beverages are the under-aged, commercial vehicle drivers and riders.
“The World Health Organisation has established that children who drink alcohol are more likely to use drugs, get bad grades, suffer injury or death, engage in risky sexual activity, make bad decisions, and have health problems. The WHO also stated that harmful consumption of alcohol is linked to more than 200 health conditions including infectious diseases – Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; and non-communicable conditions- liver cirrhosis and different types of cancer.
“It is also associated with social problems, such as alcohol addiction and gender-based violence.
“To curb the menace of abuse of alcohol, WHO recommended some actions and strategies to policymakers that have shown to be effective and cost-effective, which includes regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages, and regulating and restricting the availability of alcohol,” she said.