By Adewole Kehinde
The major headline in various media today, Tuesday 14th March, 2017 was “Court Orders NAFDAC to compel Nigerian Bottling Company to warn consumers of dangers of Drinking Fanta, Sprite With Vitamin C”. The judgment was given by Justice Adedayo Oyebanji and the court awarded a cost of N2million against NAFDAC.
I understood the suit was filed by a Lagos-based businessman, Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, against NBC Plc and NAFDAC in 2008 and that it has been in court for nine years.
From my own understanding, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) falls under the categories of Beverages and Vitamin C falls under Pharmaceutical on NAFDAC categorization. So where is the connection between Fanta, Sprite and Vitamin C?
The Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) was accused of producing Fanta and Sprite with excessive levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives. I think the best Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited would have done was to first of all come out with their scientific findings, report to Nigerian Bottling Company and if they didn’t get considerable response, then notify NAFDAC to carry out her own scientific findings.
How will NAFDAC know that Fanta and Sprite drinks are poisonous when consumed along with Vitamin C when Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) is not into the production of Vitamin C?
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is abundant in vegetables and fruits. A water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant, it helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin so I doubt if any medical Doctor will recommend to his/her patient to use soft drinks, apart from the normal water used worldwide, to take Vitamin C and which are normally licked in some instances.
As we may know, Vitamin C is easy to get through foods, as many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. Good sources include: apples, asparagus, berries, broccoli, cabbage, melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), cauliflower, citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges), kiwi, fortified foods (breads, grains, cereal), dark leafy greens (kale, spinach), peppers (especially red bell peppers, which have among the highest per-serving vitamin C content), potatoes, and tomatoes.
The Judge said that NAFDAC failed Nigerians by 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). I want to know if the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council’s Trading Standard, Department of Environment and Economy Directorate, UK informed the Coca-Cola and the entire World that Fanta Orange, Sprite, Fanta Lemon, Fanta Pineapple and soda water from Coca-Cola is poisonous.
Secondly, I want to know if any Hospital or Health Center in Nigeria has any reported cases associated with the risk of taking Fanta and Sprite with vitamin C.
I am aware that under the leadership of the Acting Director General, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, NAFDAC always ensures that routine laboratory tests are carried out on not only on soft drinks but on all other related products produced and imported into the country to ensure their safety for consumption.
The Acting Director General has ensured that NAFDAC has stringent quality control procedures to ensure that all products produced and imported into the country are safe for end-user consumption.
NAFDAC must have done their homework well to ensure that that the levels of the chemical components in all certified soft drinks are safe for consumption in Nigeria.
Where my suspicion came was when the claimants alleged that NAFDAC did not carry out requisite tests to determine the safety of the drinks for human consumption. The claimant assumption was wrong as the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) know they can’t produce without NAFDAC certification after series of scientific test on any product.
I agreed with the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) that their productions, after scientific test, are meant for local distribution and consumption, as it does not produce for export.
The claimant must be aware that Coca-Cola is manufactured and bottled by various Coca-Cola franchise holders in most countries of the world, including the United Kingdom where he exported to.
Finally, I call on NAFDAC to appeal the Judgment, file a motion to stay execution as well as put the appeal in public domain. Also the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) should work with NAFDAC on scientific findings on the said poisonous Fanta, Sprite combination With Vitamin C intake.
Adewole Kehinde is a Journalist based in Abuja. firstname.lastname@example.org