Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has sealed two factories for producing 100-millilitre plastic alcoholic beverages and lack of Good Manufacturing practice (GMP) in Enugu State.
NAFDAC enforcement operatives focused on raiding seven marked alcoholic beverage factories in two days within the state; four factories in Nsukka axis and three factories in Enugu axis.
In the Nsukka axis, two factories were sealed, in another factory its workers ran away on sighting NAFDAC enforcement officers and the last factory was yet to start production.
In the Enugu axis, two of the factories sought for were not in existence and the remaining one relocated out of its known neighbourhood within the metropolis.
Speaking on the development on Monday, the leader of the NAFDAC enforcement team, Mr Wafar Elam, decried the negative effects of irresponsible alcoholic beverage consumption on the health, safety and security of the public.
Elam, who is from the Investigative and Enforcement Directorate of NAFDAC (covering South-South and South-East), said that relative ease and affordability of the small alcoholic beverage and its pocket-size nature had made some school children take the beverage at will.
According to him, uncontrolled access and availability of high concentration alcohol in sachets and small volume or glass bottles have been put forward as a factor contributing to substance and alcohol abuse in Nigeria with its negative impact on the society.
He explained that the consumption of the alcoholic beverage can lead to renal (or kidney) failure and all sorts of cancer as well as respiratory track infections
“We are here to take an action and enforce the ban on the production of alcoholic drinks in sachets, small volume of plastic and glass bottles below 200 milliliters.
“During the raid, it was discovered that some factories had finished products, while others still have packaging materials in their possession,” he said.
Elam said that the raid followed the expiration of the deadline earlier given by NAFDAC for the ban on the production of alcoholic drinks in sachets, small volume glass and bottles across the country.
He said: “The body had in 2018 directed the stoppage of production or sale of all alcoholic drinks in sachets, small volume glasses and bottles by the end of December 2023.
“This followed the recommendation of a committee comprising the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and Industry in December 2018.
“The committee premised their arguments on the fact that the rate at which the underage population have access to alcohol was quite alarming because the manufacturers of the products make it accessible and affordable to everyone.
“It argued that due to its availability in sachets, many people are exposed to drinking too much alcoholic beverage at an early stage in life. As a result, underage drinking has become a major public health problem in the country.”