The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) at the weekend vowed to shut down packaged water production facilities that fail the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, who disclosed the planned clampdown of substandard water facilities during at a virtual stakeholders’ meeting with packaged water producers in Nigeria on the need to sanitize the industry, however, expressed the agency’s readiness to collaborate with producers that meet the GMP standards.
Adeyeye appealed to the 412 producers that participated in the interactive forum to always ensure that the level of compliance with NAFDAC regulatory requirements for which their products were registered be maintained at all times.
A statement signed by Resident Media Consultant to NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, quoted the NAFDAC boss as expressing dismay that the agency noticed that shortly after procuring registration approval, many registered producers of packaged water nationwide usually lower standards and produce portable water under bad conditions, thereby putting the health of the Nigerian consuming public at risk.
She said: ‘’Today we are gathered on this platform as producers of packaged water and we all know that the situation in Nigeria today is such that the entire Nigerian populace (including the healthy, elderly, pregnant women, children and the weak with low immunity) depend on packaged water for sustenance, as many believe falsely or rightly that the municipal water, where available, may hardly be safe for drinking.”
Describing water as a unique product because it has no alternative, Adeyeye said everybody requires water or at least water-based product for hydration, proper digestion of food, drugs and other human needs to sustain life.
The NAFDAC boss maintained that water can only sustain life when it is available for drinking in the safe and potable form otherwise, it could cause health complications and even lead to death.
‘’You are in the noble business of providing Nigerians with safe drinking water; but if you engage in activities that fall short of standards and regulatory requirements, you may be responsible for illness and even death of innocent Nigerians’’, she warns.
She appealed to the operators in the sector to produce safe water for public consumption, urging them to belong to the group of life savers, adding that the agency is ever ready for collaboration with the various associations with a view to sanitizing the industry.
The industry regulator insisted that packaged water must meet requirements of NAFDAC regulations and provisions of the Nigerian Industrial standards for Packaged water, noting that the agency will intensify its routine monitoring to ensure consistent compliance on GMP and other requirements; and apply appropriate sanctions on defaulters and violators.
Describing packaged water production as a business that requires high sense of responsibility from all producers, Adeyeye noted that producers’ associations “have the structure to reach and locate both legal and illegal producers of packaged water across the country, which could help regulators in weeding out those giving operators in the sector a bad name’’.
The NAFDAC Director General maintained that officials of the associations cannot function in place of NAFDAC officials to carryout routine inspections, noting that the agency is ready to partner with the operators in such a way that will lead to tracking and identifying defaulting practitioners in the industry.
“Let me remind you that operating with expired license, producing without approval, relocation of factory site without approval, leasing of registered premises without approval, unauthorized contract manufacturing, distribution of expired or products without date markings, submission of fake documents and poor GMP all attract very severe sanctions”, she warned.
Adeyeye urged the associations to address the issue of coding with batch numbers, production, and expiry dates while all water producers are expected to work out a workable system that will all for product coding.
According to her, the agency will henceforth conduct trainings for the stakeholders four times a year, further warned that evidence of participation in at least one training will be among the pre-requisites for renewal of product license renewal of product registration.
In their remarks, the National president of the Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP) Mrs. Tina Ativie and her Water Producers Association of Nigeria’s (WAPAN’s) counterpart, Mr. Egberi Odiri Mackson, commended the agency for the initiative and expressed the readiness of their groups to collaborate with agency in its sustained drive towards sanitising the packaged water sector.