National Assembly to investigate NBC, others over harmful content in soft drinks

The Federal House of Representatives on Wednesday moved to form an ad hoc committee which would investigate the quality of products produced by the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (“NBC”) and other soft drinks producers in the country.

The resolution of the lower chamber was prompted by a motion introduced by a member, Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye to bring to the attention of other members the health risks posed to Nigerians when Vitamin C is consumed with soft drinks.

Agunsoye recollected how tests carried out by UK health regulatory authorities on Nigerian-made Fanta and Sprite, products of NBC concluded that they were “harmful for human consumption.”

He said it became even more worrisome when NBC’s response to the health concerns was that the drinks were “never intended to be taken outside the country, which in order words, means that they were produced for consumption in Nigeria only.”

There was anger and dismay on the House floor as the debate raged with some members calling for an outright suspension of the products in the country to protect the lives of Nigerians. However, that suggestion was rejected.

Other lawmakers suggested NBC print a health warning on the products saying “On Your Own”.

The Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila said, with the court ruling, the danger posed by consuming beverages with Vitamin C has been proven. He reiterated his support for a House investigation.

“Nigerians should not be experimented with. Life is sacred and we have the mandate to protect people’s lives.”

However, Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Leo Ogor and Aminu Shagari called for caution, saying, the House should only take a position after the ad hoc committee presents its findings.

Shagari added that with the advent of social media, a few products have been run down due to unconfirmed stories on such products.

“Now, we have heard of plastic rice. So, we have to be careful and investigate and wait for whatever the committee comes up with,” he added.

In the end, the House ordered NBC to put a warning on its products that Vitamin C should not be taken with the drinks.

The motion was adopted through a voice vote.

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