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Ministry of Health Says Fanta, Sprite & Coke Manufactured in Nigeria are Safe for Consumption

BellaNaija.com

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Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole

The Federal Ministry of Health has said that Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC)‘s products Fanta, Sprite, and Coke manufactured in Nigeria, are safe for consumption.

Recall that a Lagos State High Court had ordered the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to direct NBC to issue a warning that their products – Fanta and Sprite – should not be taken with Vitamin C.

The court, in its ruling, also awarded N2m against NAFDAC for neglecting its duties. NBC said the court’s ruling has been appealed.

The ministry, in a statement by its Director of Media and Public Relations, Akinola Boade, said that the assurance came after the Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole called a meeting of the Department of Food and Drug Services, Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to address the issue.

Health authorities in the UK had declared the products unfit for consumption after Fijabi Holdings exported them to the UK. The authorities claimed that the products will become poisonous.

The ministry, in its statement, explained that both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) were ingredients approved by International Food Safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the world.

The statement added that benzoic acid 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), the statement said.

Besides, the ministry added that food products being imported into a country must comply with the relevant standards of the destination country.

“The claimant did not obtain NAFDAC certification before export, otherwise, he would have been advised on the required standard of the destination country,” the statement said.

The ministry gave the following advice:

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.

Read the full statement below:

Arising from the recent court judgement on the case filed by Fijabi Holdings and another versus Nigeria Bottling Company and NAFDAC (joined as a nominal party), the Honourable Minister of Health summoned a meeting of the Department of Food and Drug Services, Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to address the related issues.

The following were the findings:

1. 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.

2. Are levels of additives introduced as preservatives within specification?

· Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the organ established by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) to set internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines relating to foods, food production, and food safety.

· In the case of Benzoic acid, the standard set by Codex was 600mg/kg until recently reviewed to 250mg/kg and adopted in 2016. (CODEX STAN 192–1995 revised 2015 and 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. (NIS 217:2008)

· 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.

3. Are Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria safe for consumption?

· Yes, the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria are safe for consumption in view of the following reasons:

a. Risk assessment was conducted to ascertain maximum limits of food additives acceptable in foods.

b. This takes into consideration the environmental, storage and distribution conditions as well as the shelf life of food products.

c. NAFDAC and SON regularly monitor the manufacturing practices of Food industries and conduct laboratory analysis to ascertain continuous compliance with required national standards.

d. There was a routine inspection conducted at Nigeria Bottling Company by NAFDAC officers in December, 2016 which was satisfactory.

4. Why is there difference between the standard of Fanta and Sprite in Nigeria and the United Kingdom?

· 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).

· Food products being imported into a country must comply with the relevant standards of the destination country. NAFDAC has processes in place to ensure products imported into the country are evaluated to ascertain compliance with required Nigerian Industrial Standards.

  • The claimant did not obtain NAFDAC certification before export, otherwise, he would have been advised on the required standard of the destination country.

Advisory

5. 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.

6. For the benefit of the health of all Nigerians, all bottling companies are encouraged to insert advisory warnings on all products as necessary.

14 Comments

  1. Vic

    March 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Are they sure???

  2. Vic

    March 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Are they sure??

    • Moe

      March 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      “There is a reason NAFDAC and SON regulate the manufacturing practices of food industries, consider environmental and distribution conditions and ensure compliance with limits of additives acceptable in foods so if they say Fanta and Sprite is safe to drink I stay chilling with my favorite drinks”

  3. Chychy

    March 18, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Odiegwu!

  4. John

    March 18, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I bet the Minister is in cahoots with the bottling company who are no doubt in panic over expected brand collapse following the court judgement. Else, what tests has he conducted since this whole thing blew up, to arrive at the clean bill of health he has so hurriedly issued these drinks? Is he saying that the UK standards, which breach by the way, had led up to these revelations, is rubbish? Honourable Minister, do you at all care for the life of Nigerians? One would expect that the proper thing to do is for NAFDAC and the Ministry of Health to immediately order that the products should be pulled off the shelf while due diligence tests are conducted, if possible, in foreign laboratories and seeking the opinion of foreign experts who are likely to be compromised.

    • Shayo

      March 19, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Honestly bruv! It’s not that serious. The facts are clear. Benzoic acids are present in both. The only difference is the Mg and that is because our the difference in environmental factors. This type of specification is not limited to Sprite and Fanta alone. It’s applicable to some beer and beverages that are also taken internationally. That doesn’t make it poisonous in anyway.

  5. Anne

    March 18, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    I cannot be convinced. Don’t like soda at all. Not good. I struggle to drink Ginger Ale,I like the Canada dry brand. Though I wish I don’t ever take soda. Will make it my 6months goal. Since the world began, now is not the time to just eat or drink something because it is sweet

  6. Allegra

    March 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    Its 7up, Pepsi and Star Beer from now on me sha.

    I ain’t playing with Coke, Fanta, Sprite NO MORE

    • Abby

      March 19, 2017 at 12:37 am

      Medical practitioners always advise patients to take medicines with water and that is commonsensical to prevent unexpected drug-food interactions. Please let us enjoy our Fanta and Sprite in peace

  7. Zee

    March 19, 2017 at 1:06 am

    We should note difference in weather in both UK and Nigeria, so the quantity of those chemicals are not expected to be same for both locations. Besides, everything consumable can be harmful when taken in excess or together with an incompatible food or drink…. Bottling companies should insert advisory warnings and Nigerians should learn to read. Read product details and packs, read!

    My take is we should all be careful and moderate in our consumption of these things so long as they are not natural. Still love my coke tho

  8. Jude

    March 19, 2017 at 4:11 am

    NAFDAC already know they can’t win this case. They just want to gain people’s attention. We are save Go Sprite! Go Fantastic!

    • Shayo

      March 19, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Lol! NAFDAC is actually on NBC’s side either way, you are right! We are safe ??

  9. Fiona

    March 19, 2017 at 7:42 am

    According to the ministry of health, the additives in Fanta and Sprite are within specification so if you ask me I would keep taking my fanta.We have been taking it in peace and I will continue.

  10. stella

    March 20, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Oga I no drink Na by force

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