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Varsity Chancellor faults FG’s Fanta-Sprite safety claim

The Vice Chancellor of Benson Idahosa University, Prof. Ernest Izevbigie has faulted a comment by the Federal Government that Fanta and Sprite beverages are safe for consumption.

A Court had asked the Nigerian Bottling Company to warn consumers against consuming them with Vitamin C.

The Ministry of Health later cleared both drinks as safe for consumption.

But Izevbigie, who spoke at a press briefing in Benin, said the Federal Government did not address the main issue.

He said the colourant used for the drinks belonged to a chemical class of azo dye, that could be toxic to different cells in the human body.

He added that they had no nutritional value to the body.

He explained, “Although azo dyes do not occur in nature, they are metabolizable due to the presence of azoreductase enzymes in the body, which reduce the azo group to produce two compounds with amino groups.

“Scientific literature ‎shows that sunset yellow is implicated in cytotoxicity, carcinogenesis, allergies and hyperactivity in three to nine-year-old children.”

He said the company uses benzoic acid,

almost twice the amount used in neighbouring Ghana which is “a known compound that causes cancer”.

He said, “You are telling me not to take these products with Vitamin C but you already have Vitamin C in it. It seems to me that the purpose of the advisory warning is already defeated.‎”

The Vice Chancellor added, “There should be a reduction of benzoic acid or sodium benzoate concentration ‎to below 150 milligrams per kilogramme, as recommended by the World Health Organisation and is obtainable in the UK that has a low temperature than Nigeria and Ghana which has the same climatic condition as Nigeria.

“Vitamin C should be removed as an ingredient in Fanta due to concerns raised from benzene toxicity; the use of natural dye could be considered, for example, beta-carotene, as is done for the NBC product, 5 Alive Pulpy Orange.”

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