Recently, a report went viral claiming that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) were in court after being accused by Fijabi Holdings of approving Fanta and Sprite despite several threats to consumers health when consumed with Vitamin C.
After a long, heated court battle, the court had ordered NAFDAC to instruct NBC to issue a mandatory warning on its Fanta and Sprite products, stating that the contents should not be taken with Vitamin C in order to avoid poisoning.
However, in a rather odd twist, the Federal ministry of health have now come out to say that Fanta and Sprite are, in fact, safe for consumption.
According to ThisDay Newspaper, Akinola Boade, Director of Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, stated that after conducting their own investigation, the Ministry has found that 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.
“In the case of Benzoic acid, the standard set by Codex was 600mg/kg until recently reviewed to 250mg/kg and adopted in 2016 …; with reference to the Codex standard and other relevant documents, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) as the standard setting body in Nigeria in consultation with technical experts and relevant stakeholders elaborated the standard of benzoic acid in soft drinks to be at 250mg/kg based on the national climatic and storage conditions – this standard has been in existence since 1997 and revised in 2008”
She added that the levels of additive, Benzoic acid, in the drinks are within the approved standard.
“The levels of benzoic acid in Fanta (1 batch) and Sprite (2 batches) presented by the claimant in the court are 188.64mg/kg, 201.06mg/kg and 161.5mg/kg respectively; these levels are in compliance with both the Codex and Nigeria Industrial Standards.”
In response to public concerns that Fanta and Sprite produced by NBC Nigeria failed the UK Benzoic test, Mrs. Akinola stated, “with reference to the Codex standards, each country or region is permitted to adapt a standard/limit based on country-specific scientific evidence such as environmental, storage and distribution conditions; benzoic acid as a preservative prevents the growth of microorganisms which thrive more at higher climatic temperatures like in Nigeria”
“Due to the different environmental conditions obtainable in the UK, the standard for benzoic acid was set at a lower limit of 150mg/kg while in Nigeria it was set at 250mg/kg even below that of Codex (as at time of production of that batch; Codex limit was 600mgkg); and Food products being imported into a country must comply with the relevant standards of the destination country.”
She, however, advised Nigerians to refrain from taking medicines with drinks but should take all drugs with clean water.
“In view of the above, we would like to advise all Nigerians to take medicines with potable water. This would help to prevent unexpected drug-food interactions. For the benefit of the health of all Nigerians, all bottling companies are encouraged to insert advisory warnings on all products as necessary,” the Federal Ministry of Health advised.
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