The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has ordered Guinness Nigeria Plc to pay N1 billion “as administrative charges for various clandestine violations of NAFDAC rules, regulations and enactments over a long period of time”, The Punch is reporting.
In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Peter Ndegwa, by the Head, Investigation and Enforcement of NAFDAC, Kingsley Ejiofor, the regulatory agency requested for the payment of the N1 billion as administrative charges for infractions such as the destruction activities carried out by the company without the authorisation and supervision of the agency.
Guinness was also accused of revalidating expired products without authorisation and supervision by NAFDAC, as well as failing to secure the gate of its warehouse as the raw materials used in the production of beer and non-alcoholic beverages by the firm were permanently opened to intrusion and exposure to the elements and rodents, which “invariably affect the integrity of the raw materials”.
The brewer was also alleged to maintain poor documentation record and not complying with conditions contained in the certificate of validation of the revalidated malt extract, which required the storage of the items in cool and dry place and elimination of exposure to sunlight.
The letter, referenced ENFD/7218/Vol. 1/85, and dated November 9, 2015, states: “In view of the above, you are further required to take the following actions: disclosure of all your warehouses in the country and submission of inventory level of the stock thereof; submit a written voluntary consent of forfeiture for destruction of the expired and revalidated raw materials discovered in your warehouse; and submit a notarised undertaking to comply with all the guidelines, rules, regulations and enactments of the agency, and to refrain from any future violations.”
The agency directed Guinness to ensure the payment of the N1 billion within two weeks of the receipt of its letter.
In a statement made available to our correspondents on Wednesday, Guinness said it was in receipt of the letter from NAFDAC and the demand for the payment of N1 billion for certain alleged regulatory infractions.
The company said: “The management of Guinness Nigeria does not fully understand the basis for the computation of the administrative charges nor the particular regulations alleged to have been infringed, and is currently in discussions with NAFDAC with a view to gaining better clarity on the issue and hopefully have it resolved.
“Guinness Nigeria has operated in Nigeria for over 65 years and has conducted its business in accordance with all relevant laws and regulations in Nigeria and Diageo’s global policies and procedures relating to good manufacturing practice.
“Guinness Nigeria is cognizant of its responsibility to adhere to relevant laws and regulations, which are applicable to its operations, including regulations issued by NAFDAC, and takes this obligation seriously.
“We remain committed to working with NAFDAC and other regulatory authorities in furtherance of our responsibility to produce and market quality products, which are enjoyed by consumers throughout Nigeria, and look forward to being able to resolve the issue working in partnership with NAFDAC.”
In another statement on Thursday, the company said all products from its stable conform to the highest standards of quality, having not only been produced in line with the globally accepted code of good manufacturing practice, but also been repeatedly so-certified by NAFDAC and the Standards Organization of Nigeria.
Ndegwa said this in the statement on Thursday.
According to Ndegwa: “The meticulous and painstaking work including rigorous quality assurance, that precedes the final production of all our products, hasa singular objective: to ensure that our consumers drink products that are healthy and comparable with similar products made by a Diageo facility anywhere else in the world.”
Referring to the Guinness Nigeria production facilities in Ogba, Benin City and Aba, Ndegwa stated that each of the breweries continues to work to exceed critical standards in areas such as quality and very importantly, human safety and environmental preservation.
“On an incremental basis we continue to automate our processes,” said Ndegwa. “Indeed, with an investment in excess of N52 billion in improving our manufacturing processes, our brewing plants would rank favourably among the most automated and modern brewing plants around the world.”
The company’s major aim is the continuous enhancement of the quality of products Guinness Nigeria makes available to its consumers, he added.
Responding to questions on the sanction on the company by NAFDAC, Ndegwa confirmed that Guinness Nigeria is indeed in receipt of a letter from NAFDAC.
He said: “As a responsible corporate organization, we take these allegations which relate primarily to raw materials stored in one of our raw materials stores very seriously.” He clarified that the said raw materials store is not a production facility and that “we engaging NAFDAC for clarifications and resolution of the issues.”
According to Ndegwa, there is an extensive and elaborate process by which basic raw materials are first converted during the brewing stage, with lots of critical control points, before products are bottled and released to the market, adding: “Each of these painstaking steps is rigorously monitored for conformity with all necessary global standards which we regard as basic, as we always aspire to exceed the much higher standards that have been set internally by the Diageo Group.”
The high quality of products from Guinness Nigeria’s breweries,” he said, “has been attested to repeatedly not only by NAFDAC but also by the Standards Organization of Nigeria, as well as the internal quality controls of the Diageo Group.”
Ndegwa reaffirmed that Guinness Nigeria is very positive that on account of its ongoing engagement with NAFDAC, the issues will be clarified and resolved in a short while.
Since then it has remained an integral player in Nigeria’s manufacturing space, opening up more breweries located in Benin City and Aba respectively.
It has been commended on several occasions not only for its commitment to quality and safety but also importantly, for its contributions to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.