Nigeria Declare Miranda, Lucozade UNSAFE. Fanta, Sprite Safe. The Nigeria Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has declared Mirinda and Lucozade soft drinks unsafe for Nigerian consumers. The council said both beverages contained benzoic acid level above the limit approved by the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS). The Council said in a statement yesterday in Abuja that while the NIS limit for benzoic acid is 250mg/Kg, when combined with Vitamin C and 300mg/Kg without Vitamin C, test revealed that Mirinda, a product of 7UP Bottling Company, contained benzoic acid ranging between 0.56mg/L to 330.9mg/L.
It said Lucozade, formerly produced by Glaxo SmithKline, contained the acid between 2.26mg/L to 323.53mg/L. The council said the test was conducted at the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), a laboratory under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
The council said it obtained 65 samples of soft drinks from the open market in eight locations within the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, made up of Fanta Orange, Sprite, Mirinda and Lucozade.
“The Council also observed from the results that there were isolated cases of Mirinda and Lucozade with Benzoic Acid levels of 330.9mg/L and 323.53mg/L respectively, which are above the NIS limit,” the Director General of CPC, Mrs Dupe Atoki, said.
The Council further said the test found that benzoic acid levels in Fanta Orange ranged from 5.09mg/L to 197.0mg/L while that of Sprite ranged from 2.82mg/L to 239.0mg/L, indicating that both soft drinks were safe for Nigerian consumers as they contained benzoic acid within the limit approved by the NIS.
Atoki said NAFDAC and SON have been informed of the investigation and has 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.”
The Consumer Protection (Products and Services Monitoring and Registration) Regulations 2005 (“the Regulation”) which was promulgated pursuant to the powers conferred on the Consumer Protection Council (“the Council”) by Section 31 of the Consumer Protection Council Act (“the Act”) stipulates the requirements for registration of products and services by the Council. The Regulation provides that products manufactured, imported, advertised, sold, distributed in Nigeria shall be registered by the Council.
The Regulation provides that any person who contravenes the provisions of the Regulation shall be prohibited from carrying on manufacture, distribution, sale, advertisement and importation of the product completely or for such a period as the Council may determine in addition to payment of fine of N 50,000.
It is interesting to note that the Council has made giant strides towards the protection of consumers’ rights in Nigeria. In 2015, the Council issued Volkswagen Nigeria a 7 days ultimatum to provide information on the status of its vehicles as regards the emissions of cheating software which is reported to have affected 11 million cars worldwide. The Council went on a nationwide sensitization campaign to checkmate smuggled poultry products in the Country. Upon numerous complaints of subscribers to Digital Satellite Television (“DSTV”), in July 2015 the Council commenced investigative sittings into the operations of Multichoice Nigeria, the franchise owners of DSTV. In August 2015, the Council waded into a complaint of a customer of excess bank charges by First City Monument Bank. The Council also investigated the activities of VIP Express Tourism Limited, a Nigerian hospitality company upon receipt of complaints that the operations of the company is against the rights of their subscribers.
More recently, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) launched a detailed investigation into the alleged danger of mixing Fanta or Sprite with Vitamin C.
This followed the award by a Lagos state High Court of a N2 million cost against the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) forcertifying Fanta and Sprite fit for human consumption even after the drinks were declared unfit for human consumption in the UK. The court also ordered NAFDAC to direct the Nigeria Bottling Company NBC to include a warning on the bottles of the product that its content cannot be taken with Vitamin C.
NBC, in a statement after the judgement, said that although the benzoic acid levels of the products were not within the UK national level, they are within the levels approved by both the national regulators for Nigeria and the international levels set by CODEX – the joint intergovernmental body responsible for harmonizing food standards globally.
It remains to been what effect the CPC statement declaring fanta and sprite safe will have on the courts.