by James, Michael Igiri
BENSON Idahosa University, BIU, Benin City, Edo State, has faulted the Federal
Government’s clearance that Fanta and Sprite beverages were good for consumption,
insisting that the information or data provided by the government on the beverages fell
short of addressing the safety concerns raised in court.
It will be recalled that a Lagos High Court had ordered the National Agency for Food DRUG
Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to compel the Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC, the
manufacturer of Fanta and Sprite, to indicate a written warning label that the content of the
two products should not be taken with Vitamin C.
However, at a media briefing held in the institution, some scientists at BIU, led by the Vice
Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Izevbigie, raised concern over the clean bill of health given to
Nigerians to consume Fanta and Sprite, saying that as an ivory tower, the institution owed
the society a responsibility to provide expert opinion on the matter.
Prof. Izevbigie, who is a professor of Biochemistry, said answers provided to questions such
as the presence and amount colourant in Fanta, the presence and concentration of benzoic
acid or sodium benzoate in the two beverages, and the presence of benzene that results
from conversion of benzoic acid to benzene, were not satisfactory.
He said that the colourant used in Fanta, the yellow sunset, had been implicated in
cytotoxicity, carcinogenesis, allergies and hyper activity in children when the right amount is
not used. On benzoic acid, he said the federal Ministry of Health has explanation to give on
why standard given for it in soft drinks was put at 250mg/kg as opposed to 150mg/kg that
was obtainable in the United Kingdom and in Ghana.
Prof. Izevbigie, who noted that though the Nigerian standard was high owing to high
temperature and that it still falls within the international standard, said pasteurization and
the use of carbon dioxide can achieve the same goal as the use of high benzoic acid without
the added health risks.
Source: Vanguard Online News