The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has vowed to shut down packaged water production facilities that fail the Good Manufacturing Practice requirements.
This is as it pledges to collaborate with the various associations in efforts to sanitize the packaged water sector of the economy.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, made the assertions at a stakeholder meeting with packaged water producers in Nigeria on the need to sanitize the industry.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the agency, Adeyeye, however, 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.
She, however, expressed dismay that shortly after procuring registration approval, many of the over 16,000 registered producers of packaged water across Nigeria more often than not lower standards and produce the essential commodity under despicable conditions, putting the health of the Nigerian consuming public at risk.
She said that, ‘’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 needs water or at least water based product for hydration, proper digestion of food, drugs and other human needs to sustain life. ‘’Water is life’’, she noted.
The NAFDAC boss however posits 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 further stated that, WHO states that access to safe drinking water is important as a health and development issue at a national, regional, and local level.
Adeyeye appealed to the conscience of the producers to produce safe water for public consumption, urging them to belong to the group of life savers. She added that the agency is ever ready for collaboration with the various associations with a view to sanitizing the industry.
She insists that packaged water must meet requirements of NAFDAC regulations and provisions of the Nigerian Industrial standards for Packaged water, noting that the Agency would intensify its routine monitoring to ensure consistent compliance on GMP and other requirements; and apply appropriate sanctions on defaulters and violators.
Adeyeye pointed out that Packaged water production is a business that requires high sense of responsibility hence nonchalant attitude should be eliminated by our collective efforts.
She noted: ‘’your 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 DG maintains that officials of the associations cannot function in place of NAFDAC officials to carryout routine inspections, noting that the Agency is however, positively disposed to collaboration 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 warns.
She however urged them 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.
Adeyeye who disclosed that 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.
Both National presidents of the Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP), Mrs. Tina Ativie, and Water Producers Association of Nigeria (WAPAN), Mr. Egberi Odiri Mackson, commended NAFDAC for the initiative.
They both explained the various steps their respective associations have taken in areas of enlightenment, education, and self-monitoring of their members. Both presidents, however, expressed the desire of their associations to cooperate and collaborate with NAFDAC to ensure sanity in the packaged water sector.