The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) said on Sunday it has opened an investigation into claims made by Nigerian Breweries Plc on nutritional and health benefits of beer consumption.
The government agency issued a 14-day ultimatum to the brewer to provide evidence to support the claims which the agency said was capable of luring unsuspecting consumers into unwholesome consumption of the product.
In a statement, which was signed by the Council’s spokesman, Abiodun Obimuyiwa, read in parts: “Nigerian Breweries had in media reportage of its recent symposium held in Lagos early July 2016 asserted that consumption of beer has many nutritional, health and therapeutic benefits?
“CPC has sent a notice of the commencement of investigation of the claims to the leading brewery company, quoting relevant sections of its law mandating it to protect consumers from misleading advertisement or information on any consumer item, among others.
“The council, in a letter signed by its Director General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki listed some of the claims, which include that beer is not an alcoholic beverage and that if taken regularly and in moderation has many defined nutritional and health benefits and can indeed be part of a healthy life style.”
Other alleged claims made by the brewer include that “beer consumption has therapeutic qualities such as prevention of kidney stones, increase in anti-oxidant activity in the body, reduction in the risk of heart disease and blood pressure management.”
CPC said it has reservations that the claims “In effect suggest that beer is a health drink and have the potential to lure unsuspecting consumers into unwholesome consumption of the product.” The agency gave Nigerian Breweries 14-days to respond to the notice with relevant documents and to show proof of certification of its claims and registration with relevant agencies.
The DG of CPC, while commenting on the investigation, said the probe became inevitable in view of its mandate to ensure information put out to consumers are not misleading and to also check obnoxious practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, firms and trade associations or individuals.
She noted that the investigation would be done in concert with other relevant government agencies such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which regulates the sector and the Federal Ministry of Health.
She added that “NAFDAC and the ministry have been appropriately communicated to on the development and the CPC’s decision to investigate the veracity of the claims for the Nigerian consumers.”