… products being consumed by young school children

The Director General for the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, has said that the ban on alcohol in sachet packaging was not a sudden event as the manufacturers had signed an agreement in December 2018 to phase out the product within five years.

The NAFDAC DG revealed this in an interview with ARISE NEWSNIGHT on Tuesday, where she also said that the products were being banned mainly because they were being consumed by young school children as they could easily be concealed.

During the interview, Adeyeye explained, “AFBTE, the association of food and beverage group, and DIBAN, the distillers’ association, went to the ministry of health in 2018 to complain that we’re planning to ban the use or stop registration of alcohol in sachets, and we had several meetings. At the end of it all, there was a document that was generated, and an agreement that was signed by AFBTE and DIBAN, the distillers’ association, that we should consider that they have machinery and people in the industry producing these alcoholic beverages in sachets and less than 200 ml bottles, that we should give them time. This was 2018 December.”

She revealed that the “manufacturers signed an agreement for a five-year phase out in 2018, that by the end of January 2024, they will not produce sachet alcohol again,” and that they should have slowly phased out the products during the given time.

Adeyeye said that the Ministry of Trade and FCCPC were co-signers of the agreement and that NAFDAC is just implementing the agreement and does not want businesses to fail.

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“NAFDAC is business friendly. We have attracted, through our 5+5 policy, through local manufacturing encouragements we have attracted billions of businesses into the country in the farming sector. So, we are business friendly. I don’t distinguish between quality of products that we approve and trade,” she said.

When Adeyeye was questioned on the urgency of NAFDAC to take out these alcoholic beverages in sachets, she said, “Children in primary schools, secondary schools, are drinking alcohol in sachets or less than 200 ml pet bottles. Beer has 4-8% alcohol. The alcohol content in this sachet is 30%. 6-7 times the amount of alcohol in beer. We did not ban alcohol in bigger containers, we are not against trade. We are banning alcohol as an implementing agency under the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Ministry of Trade. We are banning alcohol in sachets and pet bottles less than 200 ml because these packages can be easily concealed.”

Speaking to the dangers of the products in question, the DG said, “It is harmful because it can be easily concealed. You can imagine your child, a primary school child, concealing the sachet in the pocket. I was talking with a principal two days ago, and she said that they normally seize those sachet packages with alcohol inside them from children, that sometimes, a child may consume up to seven during the day, during school hours.”

She said that it has been highly documented by international agencies that children who start drinking alcohol at a young age will very likely abuse substances, and that alcohol can cause over two hundred types of diseases.

“We gave five-year notice. If an association did not disseminate that information to the groups in their association, then that’s a problem. We gave five-year notice, please phase these out because our children will have liver cirrhosis, because our children, by the time they get to twenty-something, they may be having cancers. Which one do we want? We want children to die, or we want money?”