Nigerian Medical Association, Nutritional Experts Weigh in on the NBC, NAFDAC Court Judgement

The Nigerian Medical Association (“NMA”) has urged the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (“NAFDAC”) and the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure the enforcement of the judgement by a Lagos High Court in Igbosere.

The NMA said that the regulatory agency failed Nigerians by declaring as fit for human consumption, drinks which in the United Kingdom were deemed poisonous when mixed with Vitamin C.

The court had awarded N2m to the claimant and ruled against NAFDAC for a suit brought against NBC and the regulatory agency by a Lagos-based businessman, Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo and his company, FIjabi Adebo Holdings Limited.

Adebo had sought a declaration from the court that NBC was negligent to its consumers by selling products – Fanta and Sprite which contained high levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives.

The claimant also urged the court to order NAFDAC to perform routine laboratory analysis on all soft drinks and allied products produced by NBC to determine their safety for human consumption.

A nutrition expert with the Federal Medical Centre, idiaba, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mr. Oladimeji Okunlola, advised NBC to begin a campaign to sensitize Nigerians to the dangers of some of the preservatives used in its products.

Okunlola said that beside the drug benzoic acid, Nigerians should be concerned about the sodium level in soft drinks and other consumables.

“Benzoic acid is a preservative used in foods and drinks. There are other preservatives like alpha tens, a sweetener. It is a class of protein that is harmful to people living with kidney failure. There are drinks, which have alpha ten specific warnings on their labels and I think the NBC should do the same.

“Vitamin C is a common drug and when you take it with soft drinks, a gas is released and it can affect the kidney and the liver. I think NBC should come out with a better defense. The story that the benzoic acid in the drink is still within acceptable limits does not fly. Who determines the acceptable levels? Is it the Nigeria Medical Association or NAFDAC?”

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