Consumer Protection Council begins investigation into Fanta and Sprite

by Dolapo Adelana

The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has begun an investigation into the safety of additives in Nigerian Bottling Company’s Fanta and Sprite.

The Council’s Director General, Dupe Atoki, who disclosed this to the media on Thursday said that the investigation became inevitable in view of the safety issue raised by a court judgment.

A Lagos High Court on Monday in a ruling said the use of Fanta and Sprite with Vitamin C was harmful. It directed the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to warn Nigerians due to the presence of high concentration of ascorbic and benzoic acids in the soft drinks.

Mrs. Atoki said the Council “is keenly interested and extremely concerned about the questions that have arisen from, and on account of this judgement”, adding that “as such upon the discoveries therein, the CPC is launching a broad and detailed investigation as a matter of urgency”.

“Indeed the judgement only serves as the subject of bringing this information to CPC’s attention, the Council would conduct its own independent investigation,” she added.

“The reason for CPC’s interest is not far-fetched. For years, Fanta, Sprite and Coca Cola have arguably and consistently been the most widely consumed beverages in Nigeria. The spectrum of consumption is also perhaps the widest, with consumption starting as early as age four and far into adult years.

“In addition, Vitamin C is one of the most consumed medications for both children and adults, both as a matter of prescription/ over the counter and, or as dietary supplement. Essentially, both the NBC products and Vitamin C are routinely consumed in Nigeria with absolutely no restrictions to access and availability,” she said.

Mrs. Atoki hinted that some of the questions to be asked are; “Is Sprite/Fanta at the time of production potentially harmful to consumers when consumed with Vitamin C? If yes, what is NBC’s obligation to consumers and has NBC fully discharged that obligation?”

She stated that “pursuant to the Consumer Protection Council Act, the Council is interested in discovering what steps if any, NBC took after the testing and confiscation of Fanta and Sprite by the United Kingdom’s authorities”.

She however disclosed that the council has engaged NBC in furtherance of the investigation, stating that the bottling company has been given seven days to respond to them because they asked them for a lot of documentation.

“We want to be free and fair. We do not want to base our decisions on what someone else has analysed. We have given them seven days within which to provide this information. And let me say that this will also involve us inviting experts to testify as to the various components and the effect on the consumers,” Mrs. Atoki said.

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