Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has talked on the recent news about the health implications of Fanta and Sprite drinks produced in Nigeria.
He instructed the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to liaise with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, to address concerns of Nigerians on the safety of Coca-Cola products.
Mr. Adewole also called for a meeting with SON on Friday, saying the issue goes beyond the legal aspects of a court verdict.
“It is about morality; Nigerians can trust us to put their safety first. God bless”, said the minister of health.
This directive was given three days after a Lagos High Court, ruled that NAFDAC should give the Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC, 90 days deadline to include on all bottles of Fanta and Sprite that drinks cannot be taken with Vitamin C.
A suit was earlier filed by Emmanuel Adebo, a Lagos-based businessman, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, against NBC Plc and NAFDAC.
Mr. Adebo, in his suit, had told the court to declare that NBC was unconcerned about the health of its consumers by bottling Fanta and Sprite with excess benzoic acid and sunset additives. He said, the UK authorities destroyed the Nigerian-produced Fanta and Sprite he exported there, claiming they were poisonous.
Benzoic acid is a white, crystalline powder with a faint, non-offensive odour.
It is a preservative, which could cause cancer, high level of hyperactivity in children and asthma when used excessively.
Sunset yellow is a dye found in foods, like orange juice, ice cream, canned fish, cheese, jellies, soft drinks and some medicines.
The NBC has said it will appeal the judgment. In its statement released last Wednesday, the NBC said they were different approved levels of benzoic acid between Nigeria and the UK, but both were within the internationally accepted standard.
“The UK standards limit benzoic acid in soft drinks to a maximum of 150 mg/kg. Both Fanta and Sprite have benzoic levels of 200 mg/kg which is lower than the Nigerian regulatory limit of 250 mg/kg when combined with ascorbic acid and 300 mg/kg without ascorbic acid and also lower than the 600 mg/kg international limit set by CODEX.”