….As NBC declares Sprite, Fanta safe for consumption
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has appealed a Lagos High Court judgment directing the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Limited, to include a warning that it’s Fanta and Sprite would be poisonous when taken with Vitamin C.
In a swift reaction, the, NBC has also allayed fears of consumers of Sprite and Fanta, saying they were safe for human consumption.
Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs Yetunde Oni, who disclosed the move, said lawyers representing NAFDAC ”has filed an appeal and a motion to stay Execution of Action of the judgement.”
Oni said the Agency “would react both scientifically and legally on the matter at hand.”
It will be recalled that a Lagos High Court. On February 15 directed NBC, Limited, to include a warning on its bottles of Fanta and Sprite , to the effect that that their contents could not be taken with Vitamin C as same become poisonous if taken with Vitamin C.
This order was premised on the fact that the products, produced by The Coca-Cola Nigeria and it’s sister company, the NBC, contain the preservative, benzoic acid.
However, reacting to the judgment, NBC stated that the level of benzoic and ascorbic acids, ingredients in Sprite and Fanta conform with levels approved by both the national regulators for Nigeria, NAFDAC and the international levels set by CODEX, the joint intergovernmental body responsible for harmonising food standards globally.
Benzoic acid, a white, crystalline organic compound belonging to the family of carboxylic acids, is widely used as a foodpreservative and in the manufacture of various cosmetics, dyes, plastics, and insect repellents.
The court judgement was delivered in a suit involving Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited & Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo versus The NBC & NAFDAC.
According to the statement, in the case which dates back to 2007, the UK authorities confiscated a consignment of NBC products shipped to that country by the plaintiff because their benzoic acid levels were not within the UK national level, “although well within the levels approved by both the national regulators for Nigeria and the international levels set by CODEX.
“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.
‘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.”
Similarly, the NBC stated that the permissible ingredient levels set by countries for their food and beverage products were influenced by a number of factors such as climate, an example being the UK, a temperate region, requiring lower preservative levels unlike tropical countries.
“Given the fact that the benzoic and ascorbic acid levels in Fanta as well as the benzoic acid level in Sprite produced and sold by NBC in Nigeria were in compliance with the levels approved by all relevant national regulators and the international level set by CODEX. It added, ” there is no truth in the report that these products would become poisonous if consumed alongside Vitamin C.”
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