The four-week old controversy over the safety of Benzoic acid levels in Fanta and Sprite has taken a new twist, as the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) said it found samples of Seven Up (a product of Pepsico) and Lucozade (a product of Glaxo SmithKline) to contain Benzoic levels of up to 330.0mg/kg and 323.53mg/kg respectively – far higher than the Nigerian regulatory standard of 250mg/kg; while Fanta and Sprite, two brands that have been in the eye of the storm, were found to contain levels that were within the standard.
The CPC made this disclosure in a press release it issued on the outcome of its investigation into possible safety issues in Fanta, Sprite and other select soft drinks, strongly canvassing for regulatory review and actions for safer soft drinks in Nigeria.
The Council’s investigation came on the heels of public outcry and consumers’ apprehension following the action at the Lagos State High Court in suit between Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, Dr Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo and Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which alleged that Fanta Orange and Sprite may have the potentials to be hazardous due to its incompatibility with the Benzoic Acid Standards in the United Kingdom.
The director general of CPC, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, who disclosed that NAFDAC and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have been informed about the outcome of the investigation, stated that the Council has also recommended regulatory action and review of the “Benzoic Acid limits in soft drinks as the current standard, which has been in existence since 2008 is overdue for review”, especially as the requirement for reviews is pegged for every five years.
Also in the light of the high level of Benzoic Acid found in isolated cases of Mirinda and Lucozade tested, she said the Council has called for further regulatory investigative analysis, action and review in the levels of the additive in the products.
The director general disclosed that CPC, in commencing its investigation, obtained from the open market in eight locations within the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, 65 samples of soft drinks, made up of Fanta Orange, Sprite, Mirinda and Lucozade and that these samples were sent to Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), a laboratory under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, for the analysis of the levels of Benzoic Acid and Sunset Yellow in the products.