The Federal Government has reassured Nigerians that the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria are safe for consumption.
This was contained in a statement issued by Mrs Akinola Boade, the Director, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, on Friday in Abuja.
She said the explanation followed a stakeholders meeting summoned by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to address related issues on the recent court judgment on the case filed by Fijabi Holdings against the Nigeria Bottling Company and NAFDAC.
Adewole explained that both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) were ingredients approved by International Food Safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the world.
“Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the organisation established by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to set internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines relating to foods, food production and food safety.
“In the case of benzoic acid, the standard set by Codex was 600mg/kg until recently reviewed to 250mg/kg and adopted in 2016.
“With reference to the Codex standard and other relevant documents, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in consultation with and relevant stakeholders elaborated the standard of benzoic acid in soft drinks to be at 250mg/kg based on the national climatic and storage conditions.
“This standard has been in existence since 1997 and revised in 2008, the levels of benzoic acid in Fanta (1 batch) and Sprite (2 batches) presented by the claimant in the court are 188.64mg/kg, 201.06mg/kg and 161.5mg/kg, respectively,” he said.
The minister stressed that the levels were in compliance with both the Codex and Nigeria Industrial Standards, stressing that the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria were safe for consumption in view of the following reasons:
“Risk assessment was conducted to ascertain maximum limits of food additives acceptable in foods. This takes into consideration the environmental, storage and distribution conditions as well as the shelf life of food products.
“NAFDAC and SON regularly monitor the manufacturing practices of food industries and conduct laboratory analysis to ascertain continuous compliance with required national standards.
“There was a routine inspection conducted at Nigeria Bottling Company by NAFDAC officers in December 2016, which was satisfactory.
“With reference to the Codex standards, each country or region is permitted to adapt a standard and limit based on country specific scientific evidence such as environmental, storage and distribution conditions,” he added.
www.business day online.com