Stakeholders in the agriculture and food industries, have berated the Nigerian Bottling Company for defending itself over the levels of benzoic and sunset additives, found in Fanta and Sprite.
A Lagos High Court had in a judgement held that excessive levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives were found in Fanta and Sprite. The implication of that was that the drinks were poisonous when consumed alongside Vitamin C.
The trial judge, Justice Adedayo Oyebanji, while awarding a cost of N2 million against the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had berated the agency for declaring, as fit for human consumption, products discovered by tests in the United Kingdom as turning poisonous when mixed with ascorbic acid (popularly known as Vitamin C).
The judge had further ordered NAFDAC to compel the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Plc to put a written warning on Fanta and Sprite bottles stating that both soft drinks are poisonous when consumed along with Vitamin C.
But in its reaction the NBC denied that the drinks were poisonous. The company in a statement said that “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.
“Both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) are ingredients approved by international food safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the world.
The defence of NBC was however rejected by stakeholders who were contacted by AgroNigeria.
A wellness Consultant and Technology Entrepreneur, Adedolamu Sobowale said, ”The last time I checked, neither Benzoic Acid nor Sunset Yellow were foods. These things are chemical dyes and additives presumably added just in the right quantities the body can tolerate without going into immediate convulsion or shutdown. But what’s the sense in it if a few drops of Gamaline 20 were let into even a tank of water. Would I willingly drink it under normal circumstances? The truth is every sip from those colored bottles increases our toxic load and leaves us worse off than we were”.
Another stakeholder, Odumusu Olajide who is a nutritionist said “Most of these chemicals have residual effect on the body after appreciable accumulations result in different kinds of diseases”.
In his own reaction, a stakeholder, Osita Okerie , stated, ” They are talking trash, why did the court ask them to put up a warning sign? They will always wriggle out of any case. This is the time we need to boycott their products. What health benefits do we even derive from drinking these carbonated sugar drinks? Obesity, heart related diseases, Cancer, Low sexual drive (no libido) etc.
The CEO, AgroNigeria, Richard-Mark Mbaram, while making his own reaction, said, “This has given me the confirmation I need, are we now more knowledgeable than the U.K? Please boycott those products if you want to save your life.”