Although Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd has appealled the judgement of a Lagos High Court ordering it to write warning on the bottles of its soft drinks, the company has allayed concerns over what it described as misleading media reports.
The court had in a judgement delivered on February 15, 2017 directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to mandate NBC to include a warning on its bottles of Fanta and Sprite that its contents cannot be taken with Vitamin C as same can become poisonous if taken with Vitamin C.
This order was premised on the fact that the products contain the preservative – benzoic acid.
Having regard to the alleged misleading media reports on the safety of benzoic and ascorbic acids as ingredients in soft drinks, NBC made clarifications.
“Both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) are ingredients approved by international food safety regulators and used in many food beverage products around the world,” NBC explained in a news release.
While pointing out that it has appealed the order, NBC said: “These two ingredients are also used in combination in some of these products within levels which may differ from one country to another as approved by the respective national food and drug regulators and in line with the range prescribed by CODEX” based on, for example, climatic conditions.
CODEX is the joint international body responsible for harmonizing food standards globally.
In the statement entitled: “NBC Allays Concerns Over Benzoic Acid In Soft Drinks,” NBC pointed out that the court in the same judgement dismissed all claims against it, and held that the company had not breached its duty of care to consumers and there was no proven case of negligence against it.
“The wrong perception emanating from the media report that our Fanta and Sprite beverages which are fully compliant with all national and international food quality and safety standards are unsafe, simply because their levels of benzoic acid were not b within UK standards, is not only unfounded but also undermines the entire food and beverage industry in Nigeria which is regulated by the same ingredient levels approved by NAFDAC and other regulatory bodies for the country,” NBC argued.
Reacting to questions on the development, Dr Bartholomew Brai of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN) stated that there is no evidence that Fanta and Sprite are dangerous to health.
“Any decision to declare a product unsafe for human consumption must be evidence-based,” Brai buttressed. “Right now there is nothing suggesting that Fanta and Sprite are not safe for consumption.”