Following a report about the hazardous contents in soft drinks produced by the Nigerian Bottling Company, Nigeria’s Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole has set up a panel to investigate the allegations.
The Minister said that the panel, made up of food and nutrition experts, will be assessing the level of benzoic and ascorbic acids contained in the soft drinks and whether they were fit for human consumption.
“A group of experts have been convened to immediately investigate and submit a report. I have also requested a meeting with SON. The issue goes beyond the legal aspects of the court verdict. It is about morality,” he said.
“Nigerians need to know that we will put their safety first. The questions are: Is the Coca-Cola produced in Nigeria safe? Is the acidity level acceptable? What is the difference between Coca-Cola products available in Nigeria and the United Kingdom?
“Nigerians are justifiably angry as it concerns the recent verdict of a case involving an exporter. I have instructed NAFDAC to liaise with SON to address Nigerians immediately concerning the safety of Coca-Cola products made locally.”
The High Court in Lagos State had previously instructed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to direct the NBC to include a warning on its soft drinks, particularly Sprite and Fanta, not to be taken with Vitamin C drugs.
In a related development, Dr. Bartholomew Brai, National President for the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, said that the internationally approved benzoic acid levels for the preservation of beverages was 600mg.
Brai also said that though the institution would not tolerate violation of standards by beverage companies, it was important to establish first that the companies were indeed in violation of safety standards.