Following the allegations that some soft drinks in the country could be dangerous to human health, the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, on Tuesday, April 18, banned the serving and consumption of Coke, Sprite and Fanta at government functions in the state.
The directive was given by the governor during a meeting with traditional rulers and town union executives in the state. Mr. Umahi on entering the governor’s lodge, venue of the Tuesday meeting, noticed the soft drinks on the tables.
Immediately he got to his seat, he requested for the microphone while still standing. He then proceeded to ask the ushers to remove all bottles of coke, sprite and fanta from the hall as according to him, they are dangerous to health
“I don’t want these brands of soft drink to be served in any government function again”, he warned.
Immediately, the ushers and protocol officers evacuated the drinks from the tables out of the hall.
Meanwhile, in a suit between Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited and Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo against the Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, a Lagos State High Court claimed that Fanta Orange and Sprite may be hazardous if consumed with vitamin C.
According to the court, the drinks may contain high levels of two additives, benzoic acid and sunset yellow, which may be dangerous for human consumption.
However, the Nigerian Bottling Company, NBC, debunked the allegations insisting that the quantity of the chemicals present in its products, including Fanta and Sprite, were within the boundaries set by the Nigerian regulatory standards.
Similarly, an investigation by the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, revealed that the amount of benzoic acid in Fanta and Sprite were within the Nigerian approved standard. Rather, the CPC discovered that benzoic acid levels in two other non-NBC products, Lucozade and Mirinda, was much higher than the quantity approved by Nigerian regulators.
The CPC has since called for a fresh investigation of all soft drinks sold in Nigeria.
It is possible that the confusion on the status of the drinks may have influenced the decision of the Ebonyi governor.