UPDATED: NAFDAC watches as manufacturers of Cway water, Golden Penny spaghetti, others flaunt expired licences

Despite being circulated nationwide for public consumption, companies producing Cway Water, Golden Penny Spaghetti, Peak Milk Powder, and other widely-consumed products failed to renew their operational licences from the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), exclusive documents obtained by The ICIR have shown. 

Findings by The ICIR showed that the approvals previously granted to the companies manufacturing these products have expired. This means the NAFDAC might have failed to re-assess the products and the environment under which they are produced.

The NAFDAC regulates and controls the manufacturing, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water in Nigeria.

According to the NAFDAC Act 2004, no food product or packaged water shall be manufactured, imported, exported, advertised, sold, distributed or used in Nigeria unless registered and approved by the agency.

The act provides that any manufacturer of consumables must apply for certification from the agency. The certificate of registration shall be valid for five years and should be renewed immediately after expiration.

According to the act, any company or individual found violating the regulation may be banned from engaging in the importation, exportation, manufacture, distribution, sale, or use of the food product. Additionally, they may be subject to a fine of N50,000.

The ICIR checked some selected widely consumed products in Nigeria on the agency’s website and sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the organisation for further verification.

From NAFDAC’s response, five of the 11 selected product samples sent to NAFDAC for verification have not renewed their licences.

Experts told The ICIR that this negligence by NAFDAC and the firms posed a threat to public health.

Cway and Eva Water

Findings revealed that Cway Ultra Park drinking water, a popular bottled water brand in Nigeria, lacks a valid NAFDAC licence. The manufacturer, Cway Nigeria Drinking Water Science and Technology Limited, based in Lagos state, registered the product in 2017 under number 01-3892, but the registration expired in 2022. Despite this, the company has continued selling the product nationwide.

File Photo: Cway water: Source: Jumia

Similarly, Eva Table Water, owned by Nigeria Bottling Company in Lagos, operates illegally without due certification. The certificate with the registration number 01-0492 issued to the company for its production and sale in February 2013 has expired since 2018.

UPDATE: In reaction to this publication, a spokesperson for the Nigeria bottling company (NBC), Samuel Iboroma told The ICIR that their licence is up to date. He also sent a licence obtained from the NAFDAC that is due to expire in 2025.

A statement sent to The ICIR noted that,  “The Nigerian Bottling Company’s EVA Premium Table Water registration licence, with registration number 01-0492, is hereby attached and remains valid until February 2025.

We would like to state that NBC adheres to high ethical standards of doing business and assures the public that NBC is fully committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our valued consumers. We have been operating in Nigeria for over 70 years and consistently uphold the highest safety and quality standards in the production process of all our products.”

The ICIR has contacted NAFDAC to respond to this.

 

Eva water: Source: Cocacola

Peak Milk Powder 

Another product being sold across the country with expired certification is Peak Milk Powder, a popular brand of instant milk powder in Nigeria, produced by FrieslandCampina, a Dutch multinational dairy company. Findings by The ICIR show that the certification for the product expired in 2020.

UPDATE: In reaction to this publication, an official of the FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Ngozi Manukaji told The ICIR, that contrary to what the food and drug regulator, NAFDAC said, their registration is up to date and will expire in June 2025. 

Manukaji provided a licence certificate obtained from NAFDAC in 2020 to back up the claim. 

 “It is pertinent to note that Peak Milk Powder with NAFDAC registration number 01-0274 has a valid Certificate of Registration due to expire in June 2025,” the company said in a statement addressed to The ICIR and signed by its Executive Director Corporate Affairs, Ore Famurewa.

The company said it also adheres to all international and local regulatory laws/guidelines for milk production. 

“All FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s factories adhere to the international Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 v5.1 Standards; a globally recognised certification that validates the Company’s dedication to producing wholesome dairy products to nourish its consumers.

“Furthermore, all our products are NAFDAC and MANCAP certified; a mandatory product certification scheme put in place by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure that all locally manufactured products in the country conform to the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) before sale in the market or exported.”

The ICIR has reached out to NAFDAC on this development.

peak milk powder/ source : Peak Milk website

Golden Penny Spaghetti 

Golden Penny Spaghetti is produced by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, a food and agro-allied company in Nigeria. Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc was established in 1960, making it a longstanding player in the Nigerian food industry. The document revealed that the approval for the product expired in 2018, even though the product could be found in almost every Nigerian market.

Golden Penny Spaghetti

Gino magic season tomato mix

The tomato mix is widely used for cooking various dishes in Nigerian homes. Produced by Conserveria Africana Limited in Lagos state, the company has failed to update its approval since June 2022.

PRODUCT NAFDAC NO Manufacturer APPROVED DATE EXPIRY DATE
Cway Ultra Pak Water with Zinc

&

CWAY Ultra Drinking Water

D1-7020

&

01-3892

Cway Nigeria Limited

&

CWAY Portharcourt

6/9/2018

&

12/20/2017

9/5/2020

&

12/20/2022

Peak Milk Powder 01-0274 Friesland Campina Wamco Nigeria Limited 1/29/2015 1/28/2020
Golden Penny Spaghetti

&

Golden Penny Spaghettini

 

01-0291

&

A1-0291

 

Golden Pasta and co. Ltd 8/1/2013 8/1/2018
Gino Tomato Mix 08-6288 Conserveria Africana Ltd 6/2/2017 6/1/2022
Eva premium Table Water 01-0492 Nigeria Bottling Company 2/5/2013 2/4/2018

Table showing the list of products with expired licences. Source: NAFDAC

In an interview with The ICIR, Malomo Olusola, a chief dietitian at Ajeromi Hospital in Lagos, explained that the essence of the renewal of licences was to ensure that manufacturers did not alter the standard. He noted that the proliferation of unlicenced products could cause severe danger to the public.

“It’s crucial to acknowledge that the products are not safe. Why do we have a protocol for bringing back certificates and samples? It’s for quality control. The NAFDAC is the agency that regulates a product in terms of quality control. It is part of the guidelines for receiving a NAFDAC number or approval that companies must periodically bring samples for evaluation.

“When a company doesn’t come for an assessment and their licence expires, who guarantees the quality of such products? This is particularly critical for food products, as it directly impacts the well-being of individuals. Quality control ensures that the company will be on its toes to ensure the consistency of quality that was earlier approved. If approved samples are not brought for re-assessment, it becomes uncertain whether the same quality used yesterday is maintained today.”

Malomo explained that there were manufacturers who might attempt to take shortcuts, and in doing so, the assurance of quality could be compromised, leading to a decline in the quality and overall qualitative value of the content.

“Now, I’m not particularly concerned about expired products. Those can be discarded. What’s alarming is when the licence is not renewed, and production continues. The expiry date will not reflect the actual time the licence expires. For instance, if your licence is supposed to expire in 2023, but you continue production in 2026 without renewal, the stated expiry date on the product will not show that the company is not licenced.

Malomo argued that NAFDAC’s failure to enforce compliance means the public would continue to consume potentially unsafe products, which might cause significant harm to the well-being of the public.

The dietician added that if an issue is identified later, NAFDAC might need to order the product to be withdrawn from the market. However, a substantial quantity of these products could already be in circulation by that point.

“Imagine a scenario like contaminated water entering the market and being distributed to a large gathering, such as a wedding with 1,500 guests from all over Nigeria. Look at how harmful that could be.”

He said that even though some renowned companies might claim they have internal quality control measures, there’s a need for peer review by a regulatory body like NAFDAC to ensure checks and balances.

NAFDAC’s Misleading database

NAFDAC maintains a publicly accessible online database containing all approved food and drug manufacturing companies in Nigeria and regularly updates the portal with information about the approval status of various products in Nigeria in line with its mandate.

The database tagged Registered Products Automated Database (NARPAD) collates and keeps data on all registered products in an automated database accessible electronically to designated users.

A Freedom of Information request filed by The ICIR revealed discrepancies between the information displayed on NAFDAC’s online portal and the agency’s official response.

The ICIR ran a search on some selected products and filed a freedom of information request to NAFDAC to confirm the accuracy of the information displayed on the agency’s portal. The information provided in the FOI response largely contradicts the data on the portal.

For instance, according to the database, the approval for Dangote bread flour expired in June 2022, but the FOI response says the approval is valid till August 2025. The database also states that the approval for the Nescafe Classic Pure Instant Coffee expired in August 2022, while the FOI response reveals that it is valid till 2028.

This discrepancy led to confusion when the Foundation for Investigative Journalism reported no proof of NAFDAC registering Nagiko Tomato Mix, manufactured by Erisco Foods Limited. The organisation reached this conclusion after searching the agency’s database and failing to locate the product.

This occurred after a Facebook user, Chioma Egodi, posted a negative review about the product, alleging high sugar content. The review led to a legal tussle between the reviewer and the company, who argued that the review was defamatory.

The NAFDAC later clarified that the product received its registration in 2021 but had not been updated on its database due to a backlog issue. The agency said it was actively updating the portal.

It also presented the registration certificate issued to Erisco Foods for Nagiko Tomato Mix, saying that the certificate issued to the company on February 25, 2021, remained valid until February 24, 2026. However, The ICIR‘s investigation reveals that NAFDAC has not consistently uploaded various certified products, and some of those that have been uploaded contain inaccuracies in their details.

When contacted by The ICIR, the NAFDAC spokesperson Christy Obiazikwor said the agency was beefing up its post-market surveillance to ensure that manufacturers without updated certifications and distributors of expired products are sanctioned.

“We have extended and expanded our post-marketing surveillance. There are people that go to market on the field to look for any of such products. We go to shops. We have expanded our post-market surveillance. That is why we keep telling people if they get any information about any product that has expired, they should not buy it. We tell them to report such products so that we can make an announcement about them and create awareness,” she said.






     

     

    She said the agency frowned at selling products with expired licences and was taking active measures to apprehend and prosecute the manufacturers caught.

    However, when asked why popular products like Peak Milk Power, Eva and Cway water are sold nationwide without valid licences, she asked The ICIR to send evidence.

    The ICIR sent her the Freedom of Information response, but she has yet to revert as of the time of filing this report. The ICIR also asked about discrepancies in the database and she is yet to respond to the enquiry.

    NOTES:

    • This report was updated to reflect the comments of Peak Milk Powder and Eva Water organisations.
    • Paragraph 8: 14 was changed to 11.
    • The table was updated to reflect some products have different versions. 
    • This report was updated to reflect that NBC provided a licence copy to back their claim. 

    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in society. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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    2 COMMENTS

    1. Thank you for this, their is this peanut i consumed Davilla Peanut from the roll I bought all were spoilt and when I checked the date i noticed it was cleaned and change on the wrapper. I learnt fcpc has taken up the case and nafdac has been involved and of course their nafdac has expired for over 3years, production factory moved without notifying nafdac and address on peanut still carries abuja address. There are so many product we are consuming with different side effects. Please follow up to ensure all this company do due diligence.

    2. If this story about Cway water is true then this is definitely the reason I keep having typhoid, my goodness!!

      They should stop producing for God sake and to think that I just bought 3 bottles of the cway dispenser water. God abeg, people get away with so many things in this country

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