Abuja - The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), on Thursday said it had uncovered an illegal factory within the Trade Fair Complex in Lagos loaded with various expired canned food.
The agency's Spokesman, Anslem Okonkwor, said disclosed this in a statement that the discovery was sequel to a special raid and enforcement operation in some markets in the metropolis by officers of the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate of the agency.
It said that the expired canned food were worth millions of naira, adding that a 24-year-old man, Victor Okeke had been arrested in connection with the expired products.
"The factory, which was originally a one-room shop was used to stock, re-validate and distribute expired products, particularly, food condiments.
"Some of the expired products discovered in the unhygienic factory included expired Maggi sauce with manufacturing date of 15/08/2011 and expiry date of 15/08/2014.
"Other products included Amoy Dark Soy Sauce, Costa Corned Beef and Exeter Corned Beef among others.
"For the Costa Corned Beef, whether expired or not, the 24-year -old suspect, changed their labels to Exeter Corned Beef," it said.
The statement also said that the suspect revealed that changing their labels was to attract patronage to the Costa corned beef because it was a faster moving brand than the name Costa in the market.
It said that Mr Shaba Mohammed, the leader of the NAFDAC team, who addressed journalists shortly after the exercise, revealed that the agency had been on the trail of the alleged owner of the factory following intelligence report on his activities in the market.
Mohammed, an Assistant Director, Enforcement Operations, had also revealed that the suspect, who also claimed to be the managing director of the factory, was caught re-validating the expiry dates of Maggi Arome sauce and Amoy Soy sauce.
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"These products were smuggled into the country from Ghana and the expiry dates of 2014 shifted to August 2016," he said.
According to him, the products expired since August 15, 2014.
"We have arrested the suspect and also evacuated the remaining products in the illegal factory. We are also charging him for counterfeiting. Some of the products were not registered by NAFDAC.
"What we found on ground here cannot be consumed. We saw two drums filled with ordinary water which he uses to immerse the products and the labels will remove without any traces and are replaced with re-validated labels," Mohammed was quoted as saying.
He lamented that most of the re-validated products had been pushed into the market for unsuspecting consumers to buy.
"Consuming such products could lead to terminal diseases such as liver and kidney diseases which are currently on the rise in the country.
"The sauces are sodium-based products that could lead to hypertension if consumed," Mohammed was quoted as saying.
He said that the suspect would be arraigned in court where the products evacuated would be used as exhibits against him.
"Every single thing that is here is dangerous to human health," the statement claimed.
The agency in its determination to ensure stringent punishment for counterfeiters is currently reviewing its laws with a view to making convicted counterfeiters of drug and food products spend the rest of their lives in jail.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr Paul Orhii, had declared that the current law, which stipulated a fine of N500, 000 or 15-year jail term upon conviction, was inadequate.
According to Orhii, the new law will also make counterfeiting a non bail-able offence, adding that a whistleblower clause was also included in the new proposal.