Reps investigate soft drinks produced in Nigeria

The House of Representatives wednesday mandated the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to embark on a review of the composition of all carbonated drinks in the country.

It further passed a motion allowing for the formation of an ad-hoc committee to urgently investigate the production and distribution of drinks by the Nigerian Bottling Company (Coca-Cola company) and other drinks produced and marketed in Nigeria.

The House resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos) on the need to protect Nigerians from the harmful effects of Fanta and Sprite beverages produced by Coca-Cola.

The products in question are said to contain unhealthy concentrations of Benzoic Acid and Sunset Yellow additives which become poisonous when combined with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).

It is further established that the consumption of Sprite and Fanta which have high concentrations of Benzoic acid and Sunset Yellow additives with Vitamin C could result in cancer and other diseases.

The House particularly expressed concern that the drinks, which were produced in Nigeria, were tested by the United Kingdom Health authorities (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council’s Trading Standard Department of Environment and Economy Directorate) and were discovered to be harmful for human consumption.

The House further expressed shock over the Coca-Cola company’s response that it never intended for the drinks to be taken outside the country, indicating that they were produced for consumption in Nigeria only.

It said although the company has been ordered by a court of law to inscribe a warning on coke, fanta and sprite bottles stating that they must not be taken with Vitamin C, the House is further determined to ensure an environment that produces consumables and products which are healthy for consumption and satisfy international standards and best practices.

House members particularly expressed dissatisfaction that a so-called global brand could abandon international best practice and produce different content for Nigeria and the UK.

Agunsoye had further submitted that the concentration of Benzoic was currently 250 milligrammes in drinks manufactured in the country compared to 150 milligrammes in the UK and other parts of the world.

Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) said: “Life is very sacred,” and called for investigation of all carbonated drinks produced and distributed in the country.

An amendment to the motion, seeking to suspend sale and distribution of the affected drinks was however, turned down by the House pending the outcome of the investigation.

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