NAFDAC Regulated Products and Licenses – The Packaged Food Industry & Export of Food Commodities


“If dogs don’t like your dog food,

the packaging doesn’t matter”

–Stephen Denny–

The earliest form of food packaging that ever existed was leaf wrapping, followed by paper, cloth, wood, and glass – not necessarily in that order. These wrappings, apart from glass, were of organic material and were thus biodegradable and often permeable to air, vapours and liquids, and hence unable to preserve food for long periods. Bread, cheese, salted food and other prepared foods have been sold for thousands of years.

Canned food (tinned food) was developed in the 19th century, primarily for military purposes. The first can was invented in 1809 when Napoleon Bonaparte needed to better transport food to his armies to achieve his imperial ambitions. A Frenchman (Nicholas Appert) invented the process of sealing food in airtight tin cans and sterilizing them by boiling. Other kinds of food packaging were developed with food technology advanced. Right up to the 1970s, glass dominated the market for the packaging of liquids, until metal and plastic packaging become commercially available for this purpose.

Commercial food processing is meant to facilitate the storage, transportation and consumption of food. Such food is usually ready to eat with little or no further preparation. Packaged or convenience foods can include products such as candy; beverages such as soft drinks, juices and milk; fast food; nuts, fruits and vegetables in fresh or preserved states; processed meats and cheeses; and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes. Additional convenience foods include frozen pizza, chips (banana or potato chips) and cookies.

Packaged or convenience foods can vary by country, culture and geographic location. Some packaged foods have come under criticism with regard to nutritional content, health value and how their packaging does increase solid wastes in water bodies and landfills. These concerns remain a serious issue today. An estimated eighty million tons of plastic waste continues to be dumped in the oceans every year, leading to such phenomena as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (estimated at 700,000 square kilometres), just one of many garbage patches that have aggregated on the oceans of the earth. Some have projected that we will soon have more tons of human garbage in the sea than tons of fish. Frightening! Much more aggressive recycling of wastes will have to come into play, along with measures to make packaging materials (including plastics) more biodegradable.




  1. These guidelines are for the interest of the general public and in particular food manufacturing industries in Nigeria.
  2. It is necessary to emphasize that, no food and related products shall be manufactured, imported, exported, advertised, sold or distributed in Nigeria unless it has been registered in accordance with the provisions of ACT CAP F33 LFN 2004 (formerly decree 19 of 1993) and the accompanying guidelines.
  3. A manufacturer who intends to register a food or related product in Nigeria shall first have the factory inspected by the Establishment Inspection Directorate of NAFDAC and be assigned a Certificate of Recognition as a manufacturer before an application to register the product can be made.
  4. Food in these guidelines includes supplements processed for addition to animal and poultry feeds.


a) The applicant should purchase and fill the prescribed application form. A separate application form shall be submitted for each food product.

b) Written application for food registration shall be made to the Director

(Registration and Regulatory Affairs), stating the name of the manufacturer, the generic name of product, brand name (where applicable).


Documents required for submission for food registration are:

  1. Evidence of pre-production inspection/ Certificate of Recognition issued by NAFDAC.
  2. Evidence of Trademark approval for brand name from Federal Ministry of Commerce (where applicable).
  3. Certificate of Incorporation of the company issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
  1. Comprehensive Certificate of analysis of the batch of the product submitted for registration from the manufacturer stating name and signature of the analyst.


  1. Three vetting samples shall be submitted upon satisfactory Pre-Registration inspection.


  1. Labeling shall be informative, clear and accurate.
  2. Minimum requirements on the package label in accordance with food labeling regulations shall be:
    • a) Name of food (brand name) (where applicable).
    • b) Name and location address of the manufacturer, distributor, packer or advertiser.
    • c) Provision for NAFDAC Registration Number on product label or listing number.
    • d) Batch No., Manufacturing date and Expiry date.
    • e) Net content.
    • f) A complete list of ingredients.
    • g) Adequate warnings (where necessary).


  3. Where a brand name is used, the type of product should also be stated e.g.: – CADBURY BOURNVITA “CHOCOLATE DRINK”.
  4. Any food product whose name or package label bears close resemblance to an already registered product or is likely to be mistaken for such registered product, shall not be considered for registration.
  5. Any food product, which is labeled in a foreign language, shall not be considered for registration unless an English translation is included on the label.
  6. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the disqualification of the application or lead to considerable delays in processing of registration time.
  7. A successful application attracts a Certificate of Registration with a validity period of 5 (five) years whereas products with Listing status have a validity of 2 (two) years.
  8. The time line for product registration from submission of samples up to issuance of registration number is sixty (60) workdays. However, this depends on satisfactory compliance by the applicant.


All payments to the Agency should be in Bank Draft payable to National Agency for

Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC):

  1. Food: Fifty thousand naira (N 50, 000.00) + 5% VAT.
  2. Water in sachet: Thirty thousand naira (N30, 000.00) + 5% VAT.
  3. Water in bottle: Fifty thousand naira (N50, 000.00) + 5% VAT.


  1.  Registration of a product does not automatically confer Advertising permit. A separate approval by the Agency shall be required if the product is to be advertised.
  2. NAFDAC may withdraw the certificate of Registration in the event that the product is advertised without express approval from the Agency.
  3. NAFDAC reserves the right to revoke, suspend or vary the certificate during its validity period.
  4. Filling an application form or paying for an application form does not confer registration status.
  5. Failure to respond promptly (within 30 work days) to queries or enquiries raised by NAFDAC on the application, will automatically lead to suspension of further processing of the application.

All correspondence in respect of Food and Drug registration should be addressed to:

The Director, Registration & Regulatory Affairs


Central Laboratory Complex






(1) Applicant shall apply to:

The Director – General


For a Health or Export Certificate,

A copy is sent to:

The Director

Ports Inspection Directorate

NAFDAC, Yaba – Lagos.


The Zonal Head

NAFDAC – in the appropriate zone

The above application should be submitted three weeks prior to the date of intended exportation.

(2) The applicant shall indicate the following:

  1. Name of Exporter/Manufacturing or warehouse site address
  2. Product intended for Export (Quantity/Net weight, Batch

Number, Expiry date and Manufacturing date, Pack Size specified)

iii. Consignee’s Name and Address.

(3) The applicant shall present photocopies of the following:

  1. Registration Certificate with Export Promotion Council.
  2. Shipping documents:

(a) NXP forms (Nigeria Export Proceeds form)

(b) Proforma Invoice

iii. Phytosanitary Certificate (from Plant Quarantine)

  1. Export Order
  2. Quality specification by the Importing Countries.
  3. Agrochemicals used in growing and storage of commodity.

vii. Packing List

(4) Inspecting and Sampling:

On receipt of the application, Inspection is conducted by the Agency at the company’s establishment for sampling of the Food Commodities for Laboratory analysis.

The parameters to be accessed in the establishment are as follows:

  1. Location of the premises
  2. Personnel

iii. Equipment & Facilities

  1. Raw materials and their application
  2. Standards put in place such as GMP, GAP, HACCP, GHP, etc.
  3. Source of water supply and purification system where applicable

vii. Documentation

A Health Certificate will be issued by NAFDAC if the report of Inspection and results of the Laboratory analysis are satisfactory.

Research by: Dr. Peter A. Agbugui

Edited by: Ian G. Udoh

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