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    • By virtue of suit No. LD/13/2008, a case was filed in Lagos State High Court against the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Ltd and National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) by Fijabi Adejo Holdings Ltd and Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adejo in 2008 for breaching the duty of care owed to their valued customers and consumers in the production of contaminated Coco-Cola, Fanta and Sprite soft drinks with excessive “Benzoic Acid and Sunset Yellow” additives; and also that Fanta and Sprite are poisonous when consumed with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) after the products were shipped to the (UK) in 2007 by Fijabi Adejo Holdings Limited. The products were refused entry into the United Kingdom by the UK customs as the products were said to be “unfit for human consumption”. The Lagos State High Court delivered judgment in 2007 ruling amongst others, that NBC Limited should henceforth print a written warning on all bottles of Fanta and Sprite that “it becomes poisonous if taken with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). In addition, a cost of ₦ 2m was awarded against the 2nd defendant (NAFDAC). Disagreeing with the judgment of the Lagos State High Court, NAFDAC filed a Notice of Appeal against the judgment, applied for and obtained a stay of execution on the ground that the lower Court misdirected himself by making assumptions that has no basis both in science and in law
    • Following the ongoing controversy, widespread media report and public anxiety on the two beverages, a motion was moved on the floor of the House on Tuesday 21st March, 2017 by Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye for immediate investigation on the matter. Vide Votes and Proceedings of Thursday 23rd March, 2017, the House constituted an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the production of the drinks manufactured by the Nigeria Bottling Company Ltd. and other drinks produced or marketed in Nigeria.
    • The motioner seeks to draw the attention of the House on publications on Fanta and Sprite (Coca-Cola) which is alleged could cause severe and or terminal harm on unsuspecting members of the public.
    • That Fanta and Sprite are said to contain unhealthy concentrations of Benzoic Acid and Sunset Yellow additives, which becomes poisonous when combined with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
    • That the drinks were tested by the United Kingdom Health Authorities (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council’s Training Standard Department of Environment and Economy Directorate) and were discovered to be harmful for human consumption.
    • That he was aware that the Coca–Cola Company was ordered by the Lagos State High Court to inscribe a warning on Coke, Fanta and Sprite bottles stating that the drinks must not be taken with Vitamin C.
    • That the company’s response to this revelation was that they never intended for the drinks to be taken outside Nigeria, which, in other words, they were produced for consumption in Nigeria only.
    • That the intake of Vitamin C among Nigerians is very high, thereby making citizens highly prone to the destructive effect of combining it with these Coca – Cola products.
    • That the consumptions of these drinks with Vitamin C could result in cancer and other diseases.
    • That there is need to ensure an environment that produces consumables which are healthy and satisfy international health standards and best practices.
    • In the light of the above, the motioner prayed the House to constitute an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the production and distribution of the drinks produced and marketed by the Nigeria Bottling Company Ltd.
    • Femi Gbajabiamila –        Chairman
    • Razak Atunwa –        Member
    • Simon Arabo –        Member
    • M. S. Abdul –        Member
    • Nkole Uko Ndukwe –        Member
    • Rotimi Agunsoye –        Member
    • Henry Archibong –        Member
    • Yahaya Chado –        Member
    • Abiante Dogomie A. –        Member
    • Ahmadu Mahmudu Jatau –        Committee Clerk
    • The Ad-Hoc Committee at its inaugural meeting considered the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday 23rd March, 2017 and extracted the following terms of Reference:
      • To investigate the production and distribution of drinks by the Nigeria Bottling Company Limited (Coca-Cola Company).
      • To investigate the harmful effect of Fanta and Sprite when taken with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
      • To investigate the unhealthy concentrations of Benzoic Acid and Sunset Yellow additives in Fanta and Sprite.
      • To investigate the production and distribution of other drinks in Nigeria.
      • To investigate drinks marketed in Nigeria.
      • To make recommendations.
      • Upon receipt of the notice of Referral, the Ad–Hoc Committee met and resolved to write to NAFDAC which is a major stakeholder on the matter to furnish it with the following information:
        • List of manufacturers/producers/marketers of soft or carbonated drinks in Nigeria.
        • Comprehensive list of permissible ingredients/

Additives of any soft or carbonated drinks approved           by NAFDAC.

  • Copies of independent findings of NAFDAC on the composition of Fanta, Coke, Sprite and other related soft drinks in Nigeria.
  • On receipt of the above documents, the committee met on several occasions to study the submissions. Meetings with experts and professional/academias were held. Finally, It was resolved that a public investigative hearing be held. The committee conducted the hearing from Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th October and Wednesday 1st November, 2017. All stakeholders and the general public were invited. Below are the list of Stakeholders and companies that attended the hearing or submitted memorandum:
    • National Agency for Food & Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
    • Nigeria Institute for Food Science and Technology.
    • RASA Industries Ltd.
    • Nigeria Bottling Company (Coca-Cola)
    • Seven–Up Bottling Company Plc.
    • Rite Foods Ltd.
    • The La Casera Company Plc.
    • Consumer Protection Council (CPC)
    • MEGASEA Distllers Ltd.
    • First Blends Ltd.
    • Chi Ltd.
    • Boltzmann Nig. Ltd.
    • Frutta Juice and Services Ltd.
    • Olanice Resources Nig. Ltd.
    • Sweetco Foods Ltd.
    • Forever Living Products Nig. Ltd.
    • Nigeria Breweries Plc.
    • Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON)
    • National Biosafety Agency
    • Nigeria Distillers Limited
    • Gabriel Okafor. Department of Food Science and Technology (UNN) Nsukka
  • Before the commencement of the hearing, agencies/

producers/companies were placed under oath.



  • NAFDAC stated that the Judge in Fijabi’s case misdirected himself by making assumptions that have no scientific and legal basis and this informed the agency to apply for and obtain a stay of execution and also filed a notice of appeal against the judgment at the Court of Appeal.
  • Essential ingredients in soft drinks are portable water, sweeteners, permitted organic acids, flavouring substances, carbon dioxide, additives, preservatives and fortificants.
  • Codex Alimentarius Commission sets International Food Standards Guidelines and Code Practice which contributes to the safety, quality health of consumers and fairness of international food trade. Reference is made to Codex Food Safety Standards in the world Trade Organization’s (WATO) Agreements on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
  • Benzoic Acid and Ascorbic Acid are generally used preservatives and a fortificant in soft drinks. While benzoic acid helps to control microbial spoilage, ascorbic acid is an acidic regulator, fortificant and anti-oxidant which helps to preserve quality, integrity and enriches the products. Both benzoic and ascorbic are approved for use in soft drinks by both the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) and NAFDAC.
  • In Nigeria, the maximum level of permissible benzoic acid allowed for soft drinks that do not contain ascorbic acid is 300mg/kg, while soft drinks with ascorbic acid in water based flavor is 250mg/kg and this is in conformity with the Codex Standard.
  • The present level of benzoic acid in soft drinks as determined by NAFDAC laboratory does not exceed 250mg/kg in the presence of ascorbic acid.
  • While it is a scientific fact that sodium benzoic may react with ascorbic acid under extreme heat, ultra violet light and metabolic ions to form benzene, there is no credible data to indicate that the benzene formed in soft drinks in extreme heat above 60%, ultra violet light and metabolic ions will be above the allowed average daily intake.
  • Sunset Yellow is used for coloring of drinks. It is permitted in soft drink at the maximum level of 100mg/kg. Tropical Climate, mode of transportation, and storage condition in Nigeria were part of the conditions considered in setting this limits.
  • The level of benzoic acid and sunset yellow in the products in question are satisfactory and within the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS). Each country sets her standard based on the temperature and research carried out in that country. Any exporter ought to inform NAFDAC before exporting any product undet its regulation. The report of analysis conducted by NAFDAC in 2007 and 2008 on three batches of the products indicated 161mg/kg, 188mg/kg and 201mg/kg respectively as against the maximum level of 250mg/kg.
  • The maximum level of ascorbic acid is not set, but     it is used according to good manufacturing practice     at a level required to achieve the technological     function which is also in line with international     best practice.
  • Before registering and issuing a certificate to any     food/soft drinks manufacturer, NAFDAC has to     certify the quality and safety of such beverages      after which a regular monitoring and surveillance     is carried out to ensure conformity with what was     registered. Routinely, it carries out inspection of     food manufacturing facilities, warehouse and     supermarkets among others to ensure good     manufacturing practice, good hygienic practice,     good handling practice, good storage practice and     good distribution practice. Samples of food     products are periodically taken and sent to

NAFDAC laboratories.

  • On the need for inscription warning on Coca-     Cola/Fanta/Sprite, NAFDAC’s response was that     the case has been appealed and still in court and     that medications are supposed to be taken with     water not drinks.
    • In its submission, the council confirmed that, from time to time, it monitors how goods are produced, the environment, hormonal and dietary issue. It also monitors the application of the ingredients in every product with a view to making sure producers/manufacturers comply with Cordex International Standards. The condition goods are handle from loading, transportation and off-loading are also closely supervised.
    • That benzoic acid and sunset yellow are not harmful. It becomes harmful when taken excessively with other components like Vitamin C.
    • That in view of the intake rate of Vitamin C by Nigerians, benzoic acid and sunset yellow be reduced drastically in soft drinks. And that in some other countries, sunset yellow is not in use.
    • That drinks like energy drinks be banned in Nigeria because it is harmful to human body.
    • Any drink that foreign bodies are found, the company producing such drink be heavily fined to safe guide future negligence.
    • CPC also maintains that one of the biggest problems confronting us is adulteration. As for the Coca Cola products, there is no doubt that they are manufactured to standard. But there is need for constant review to ensure safety and to accommodate environmental, hormonal and cultural issues.
  • COCA – COLA (Nigeria Bottling Company Ltd.)
    • The presentation of Coca–Cola Company with regards to the ingredients and additives contained in its drinks are similar with the presentation of NAFDAC. However, in addition, they made the following clarification.
    • That benzoic acid is not limited to soft drinks, it is a globally certified food preservative. When reduced beyond the required level, it would lead to microbial spoilage which is dangerous to human lives. After nine (9) months, the colour and physical look of the drink would still look normal, but as a result of the microbial spoilage, the content would be poisonous for human consumption.
    • That sunset yellow is used in almost all beverages like custard. And that Norway and Sweden are the only countries that have reduced the level of sunset yellow to 50mg/kg and with a warning note.
    • That the level of sunset yellow in Coca–Cola products is between 60 to 80mg/kg which is less than the 100mg/kg approved by Cordex for tropical countries like Nigeria.
    • That the company prefers using sunset yellow because is cheaper and appealing to consumer.
    • When asked to substitute benzoic acid with preservatives like “Sorbic Acid”, the company replied that benzoic acid is better and that no matter how acidic Coca–Cola is, it cannot be as acidic as human stomach.
    • That Benzoic Acid standards in other tropical countries like the following are:
      • United States –        1000mg/kg
      • Pakistan –        250mg/kg
      • Ghana –        250mg/kg
      • South Africa –        400mg/kg
      • India –        600mg/kg
    • That only few countries (about 3) banned the use of Sunset Yellow as they are not sure of the effect. However, WHO and JECFA have released publication after their research to say it is safe for use.
    • That research work by Coca-Cola on alternative to Sunset Yellow revealed that sunset yellow is the most stable to allow the product maintain its colour throughout its shelf-life. An alternative Beta Carotene (a natural colour) was discovered not stable for carbonated soft drinks due to several reasons like the carbonation, Glass bottles, etc that allows it disintegrate (change colour and dissolve into residue) with time under humid and hot environment. Beta Carotene was noted to perform better for juice in tetra pack.
    • That generally across the world, “Best Before” date (BB) are used for manufactured/processed foods and beverages while “Expiry Dates” is usually used for drugs.
    • That there is need for the Committee (Legislators) to visit the industries for better understanding of activities in production atmosphere.
    • That because of the varying geographical climatic condition, Coca-Cola products are not meant for export to countries with different climatic condition with Nigeria
    • That the shelf-life of Coca-Cola products is from four (4) to twelve (12) months.
    • Megasea Distillers is a limited liability company producing alcoholic drinks and fully Nigerian owned. The company has been in business for the past 25 years. Its products are:

8.1.1 Megasea Premium Dry Gin – NAFDAC Reg. No.                                                                               B16357 

SON Reg. No.



8.1.2. Megasea Blended Dark Rum – NAFDAC Reg. No.                                                                  016165

SON Reg. No.



8.1.3. Megasea Aromatic Schnapps – NAFDAC Reg. No.                                                                 016163

SON Reg. No.



8.1.4 Megasea Nelson’s Brandy     – NAFDAC Reg. No.                                                                 016238

SON Reg. No.



The company’s premises and products are registered with all the Regulatory Agencies. Raw materials used are: Ethanol, Treated water, Granulated Sugar, Caramel and Flavor. The ingredients used are in conformity with the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) No. 346 of 1998.

    • There are two preservatives in Seven–Up Bottling Company Plc. soft drinks – Benzoic and Sorbic Acid. The preservatives are edible chemicals that are added to food, beverages, and pharmaceutical drugs to prevent harmful decomposition by microbial growth or by undesirable chemical changes.
    • The quality of the two preservatives in Seven–Up products are:
      • Benzoic Acid – Between 133.63mg/kg –    156.39mg/kg. well below 300mg/kg allowed by     SON
      • Sorbic Acid – 99.8mg/kg well below 350mg/kg     allowed by SON
    • The only additives in Seven–Up products is Sunset Yellow (a colourant) and it is well below 100mg/kg allowed by SON:-        – Mirinda Orange – 6.67mg/kg

– Mirinda Pine Apple – 1.17 mg/kg.

    • The company is registered with NAFDAC and SON. Its use of benzoic acid and sunset yellow is below the approved limit of 250mg/kg and 100mg/kg respectively.
    • The hearing does not affect the company because it does not    produce carbonated drinks with benzoic acid and sunset yellow.


  • The Institute is a body that has professionals and experts on Foods Science and Technology. They carryout researches in food components and processing technology. despite the number of professionals and experts in the institute, they are not carried along in the supervision of food, beverages and soft drinks productions in Nigeria. With the rate of complaints on contaminated drinks by consumers, the Institute has been calling for proper supervision and regulation of food production and standardization by the regulating bodies.
  • That it has observed overlapping functions among the regulating agencies. It therefore called for review of their mandates with a view to correcting the overlap.
  • That the agencies regulating and supervising productions are underfunded to carry out their duties effectively.
  • That Best Before (BB) scientifically means the producers, after the date indicated, are not liable whether or not the product is safe for consumption. That is, they cannot be held responsible for any harm caused by their product after the BB date.
  • That they are appealing to the Ad-Hoc Committee to support their empowerment to be one of the agencies that manage and regulate food/beverages/drinks production in Nigeria, and also support the passage of their bill titled “ A Bill to Establish a National Council for Food Science and Technology” presently with the Senate.
    • In its submission, the company stated that it came into beverages production in Nigeria in August, 2016.
    • That the level of benzoic acid used in their products as preservative is 4.9mg/kg.
    • That the company imports its concentrates and components from Europe (ADM WILD EUROPE, GmbH & Co. KG).
    • That the company only add water, sugar, and packaging.
    • That the quality of the ingredients, additives and preservatives in its carbonated drinks are as mandated by regulatory standards. And only food and colour additives that are safe based on scientific information available are used in its carbonated drinks.
    • That the packagings used by WILD are suitable for the transportion of food stuff, and it is in compliance with the European Union (EU) Legislation.
    • Sweetco is a confectionery manufacturing and marketing company (candy, sweets) of various kinds. It does not manufacture drinks. As such, it is not part of the investigative hearing. They were excused from the hearing.
    • The company informed the committee that it was incorporated in Nigeria by virtue of a certificate of incorporation dated 11th September, 2003.
    • That the company has registered trade mark certificate dated 4th May, 2017 of its name: “ FRUTTA NATURAL” for 14 years.
    • That the company’s products are registered, and certificated by NAFDAC.
    • That the company has standard operating procedure to ensure healthy and safety at work as well as hygienically produced high quality products.
    • That the company imports its resources and concentrates from Europe which were processed with preservatives and colorants.
    • That since the concentrates have preservatives, the company only pasteurizes and hot – fills its juice.
    • That the life span of their products is nine (9) months. And the percentage of Benzoic Acid and Ascorbic Acid is very insignificant.
    • That because of the negligible percentage of benzoic and ascorbic acid in their products, they do not border to indicate them on their products.
    • The agency submitted that they were neither carried along in preparation for the investigative hearing nor invited to make their submission on the matter of discussion. They got the information two days after the commencement of the hearing (25/10/2017).
    • That SON was established to give standards, based on inter-national best practice for all beverages/food/drinks/alcohol that are manufactured or marketed in Nigeria. And that it is the standards that NAFDAC uses to ascertain issuance of registration certificate or otherwise to manufacturers.
    • That in setting standards, all stakeholders like: Industries,  Companies, Manufacturers, Academia, Research Institutes  etc are consulted. And when decision taken, it is published  for the general public observation before it is enforced.
    • The agency introduced itself as being saddled with the   responsibility of human, animals and plant (Genetically   Modified Organisms) safety, and that it was established in   May, 2015.
    • The company does not produce the products they sell. They only import the goods from Arizona, USA. And they have been in the business for over 20 years. When asked why the containers of their products are not carrying the percentage composition of ingredients, the company stated that it is not compulsory to indicate the percentage when ingredients compositions are listed on the containers in descending order. NAFDAC confirmed the statement.
    • That the products marketed by the company are of the highest quality ingredients, additives and preservatives as permitted by the American government. The goods marketed are :
      • Forever Active Boost Energy Drinks – NAFDAC    Reg. No. B1-5395
      • Forever Fab X Energy Drink – NAFDAC Reg.     No. A7-1545
      • Forever Aloe BITS N` Peaches – NAFDAC Reg.     No. 01-3652
      • Forever Freedom Orange Flavored Aloe Vera     Juice – NAFDAC Reg. No. 01-5282
      • Forever Aloe Vera Gel – NAFDAC Reg. No. B1     – 5082
      • Forever Pomesteen Power Liquid Dietary    Supplements -NAFDAC Reg. No. A7 – 0671L
      • Forever Aloe Berry Nectar – NAFDAC Reg. No.     01-7422
      • From the submission made by the Nigerian Breweries Plc, it was noted that the products it manufactured are: Star, Gulder, Star Life, “33” Export, More, Goldberg, Life Beer, Star Tripple – X, Heineken, Legend, Turbo King, Williams, Amstel, Malta Gold, Maltina, Maltex, Hi-Malt, Ace Passion, Ace Desire, Ace Roots, Ace Rhythm, Star Radler, Climax, Strongbow and Fayrouz. All ingredients, additives and preservatives are of food grade quality and in conformity with NAFDAC approved standard.


    • The company is located in 145 Club Road, Bompai, Kano. They produce Fruit Drinks in Pet bottles under 2 cool Brand. The drinks are non-alcoholic and non carbonated. The ingredients, additives and preservatives used are as approved by NAFDAC standard.
    • The company is in Ilesha–Owo Express Road, Akure, Ondo State. The company has stopped production since October, 2016 due to paucity of funds. However, the company is of the opinion that:
      • in collaboration with NAFDAC, the committee         should pay an unexpected visit to industries.
      • there should be a regular verification of products     to ascertain standard compliance.
      • some manufacturers do not have professionals     and experts to appropriately mix ingredients and    chemicals in their Factories. They Google from     internet to guide     them in their production. And     most of such     industries    do not have addresses.
      • The company is into production of Velite & Savourite Yoghurt. They are located in 186 Aba Owerri Road, Aba, Abia State.
      • Their products contain Sodium Benzoate at a range less than 50ppm. NAFDAC requirement is to a maximum of 50ppm. And that they do not use Sunset Yellow.
      • The company produces the following noncarbonated drinks: Caprisonne Variants, Happy Hour Variants, Ice Tea Variants, and Chi Exotic Variants.
      • That all ingredients in their drinks are complaints to the NIS  standards for fruits drinks (NIS 378: 2008) and the quality  is compliant to the EU standards.
      • That they are duly registered with NAFDAC and SON.
      • They are local producers of flavored drinks with a certificate of incorporation dated 5th March, 2014. The company is registered with NAFDAC in 2015, and started production in 2016.
      • The company produces the following drinks: St. Lauren Red, St. Lauren White, Seaman’s Schnapps, Lord’s Dry Gin, Regal Dry Gin, Calypso Coconut Liqueur, Bitter Apperito Alcoholic Drinks, Bacchus Tonic Wine, and Dark Sailor Rum. They are in compliance with NAFDAC/SON/NIS standards.
      • After a careful study of the memoranda submitted and critical study of presentations and interactive sessions with all the stakeholders, the committee observed that:
        • when Fanta/Sprite are taken with Ascorbic Acid     (Vitamin C), it     becomes harmful or poisonous to     human health;
        • no warning label is printed on Fanta/Sprite that it     is harmful to human health when taken with the     Vitamin C;
        • NAFDAC has no modern and up-to-date     equipment/manpower to cope with the growing     beverages/soft drinks manufacturers in Nigeria;
        • No expiration dates on most carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. They use Best Before (BB)     which is the international standard for drinks.      However, BB is equivocal because it does not     state the expiration date;
        • drinks with 250mg/kg and 300mg/kg Benzoic     Acid and Sunset Yellow respectively, and Sugar,     Café etc may be harmful when constantly taken     without precaution;
        • Sunset Yellow is banned in countries like Finland,     Norway, UK, Sweden and Australia;
        • The level of additives, preservatives and colorants     in use by Nigeria Manufacturers are in     compliance with Cordex Food Safety Standard     and which is adopted by NAFDAC and SON;
        • Energy drinks are banned in many countries;
        • A group of company members called Nigeria     Employers Consultative Association (NECA) was     instructed by its lawyers (Tunji Abayomi & Co)     not to attend the investigative hearing.     According to it, the hearing falls within the     prerogative of the Executive Arm of Government.    And that the matter is still in court;
        • Nigeria Institute for Food and Science Technology     is not part of food and soft drinks supervisors;
        • review of the standard of Food and Beverages      production by SON was last done in 2008 and     since then no review was carried out;
        • There is no time limit for the review of production     standard. It depends on the need or complaints     from consumers;
        • There is no proper collaboration among the    supervising  agencies to eliminate all lapses found    in a company;
        • Routine checks and follow–up by NAFDAC are    done once a year which is not enough to make    companies meet up to expectation;
        • With the aid of data received from African  Countries, CORDEX makes researches and    pronouncements for food, beverages and      drinks;
        • Because of the negligence of NAFDAC, not all     products contain indication of the full chemical,     acids, colorants, and preservatives;
        • Drinks are exposed to direct sunlight in the course     of transportation;
        • Coca-Cola products are not meant to be exported     to countries with different climatic condition with     Nigeria;
        • There is overlapping functions among the

regulating agencies.

    • After careful study of the findings, the committee wishes to recommend the following:
      • That warning label be printed on Fanta and Sprite that the products are  harmful when taken with Ascorbic     Acid (Vitamin C) as from January 1, 2019.
      • That NAFDAC shoud compel producers/manu-

facturers to indicate all chemicals, acids, colorants  and preservatives contained in their products on the packs or bottles no matter how negligible they are as from January 1, 2019


  • That the regulating agencies be adequately funded by the government to enable them effectively monitor adulteration of all drinks produced and marketed in Nigeria.
  • That Expiring Date must be printed on all carbonated and non-carbonated drinks produced and marketed in Nigeria effective from January 1, 2019
  • That standard review should be carried out biannually by the Regulating Agencies, particularly Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) partnering with NAFDAC.
  • That the House Committee on Health Services Place Special Attention to


    • The committee wishes to thank the Rt. Hon. Speaker, the entire Leadership of the House, and Honourable Colleagues for this rare opportunity accorded us to serve this hallowed chamber and, by extension, our dear country, Nigeria.











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