CPC opens investigation on NBC – Fanta, Sprite Court ruling

The Consumer Protection Council (“CPC”) on Thursday said it had opened an investigation on the recent court ruling regarding Fanta and Sprite, products of Nigerian Bottling Company (“NBC”).

The Director-General of CPC, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, said it had written a letter to NBC summoning it to provide the agency detailed information about the composition and all laboratory tests of the two products – Fanta and Sprite, covering the last 10 years between 2008 and March 2017.

The DG said it became necessary to send the summons following a Lagos High Court judgement which described the two products as “poisonous” when consumed with Vitamin C.

She added that as the apex consumer agency placed with the responsibility of protection of consumer rights in the country, the agency would carry out a detailed independent investigation into the laboratory processes as well as all the ingredients that go into producing the products.

The letter which was made available to the press gave NBC seven days to produce the requested information.

Atoki said: “CPC’s interest is not far-fetched; for years, Fanta, Sprite and Coca-Cola have arguably and consistently been the most widely consumed beverages in Nigeria. The spectrum of consumption is also perhaps the widest, with consumption starting as early as four and far into adult years.

In addition, Vitamin C is one of the most consumed medications for both children and adults, both as a matter of prescription/over the counter and, or as dietary supplement. Essentially both the NBC products and Vitamin C are routinely consumed in Nigeria with absolutely no restrictions to access and availability.”

Atoki added that the agency’s aim in the investigation is to find out among other things whether: Sprite and Fanta, when produced, is potentially poisonous to consumers when consumed with Vitamin C as stated in the court judgement. If true, what is NBC’s obligation to consumers, and has it fully discharged that obligation; the CPC would also like to know what steps, if any the company has taken after learning about the testing and confiscation of Fanta and Sprite made by the company by the UK authorities.

CPC, as part of its investigation wants NBC to provide it with: Any and all papers, processes, statements, affidavits, motions, arguments, exhibits filed in the case that was the subject of the judgement; identify every witness that NBC intended to present at the trial, including all witnesses who testified, and others who intended but who did not testify, and each witness position and role in NBC must be identified in the submission.

The CPC boss noted that the information may be commercially sensitive and assured of its confidentiality.

Atoki also requested for any quality assurance or laboratory tests carried out by the company or commissioned by the company or that have come within the control of NBC with respect to Fanta and Sprite between 2008 and March 2017.

She also requested for NBC to identify the custodian of composition of Fanta and Sprite in the UK and the United States.

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