There are videos circulating the web showing Coke’s ability in taking rust, painting-off metal objects, or cleaning toilet bowls. Even though we all know how unhealthy sodas are, many of us still regularly drink liters of this sugary stuff.
Coca-Cola is one of the most recognized drink no matter where you are. Coca-Cola products such as Coke, Fanta, or Sprite are even more accessible than clean water.
Unfortunately, aside from the high sugar content, regular consumers of these soft drinks have more to worry about. A judge in a Nigerian High Court had ruled that some of the soft drinks sold under the Coca-Cola brand could be poisonous when consumed alongside vitamin C-rich foods, drinks, and supplements.
Bottles Of Fanta And Sprite May Soon Come With Written Health Warnings
A businessman name Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo filed a lawsuit against the regulatory National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC). Then, judge Adedayo Oyebanji ruled that high levels of benzoic acid and additives in Fanta and Sprite could pose a health risk to consumers when mixed with vitamin C or ascorbic acid.
According to a CNN report, Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo’s company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, purchased Nigerian Sprite and Fanta in 2007 to export to the United Kingdom (U.K.) for retail. Health authorities ran tests when the products arrived in the U.K. and they concluded that they weren’t fit for human consumption. The products contained excessive levels of benzoic acid and food coloring sunset yellow, which both pose a serious heart risk. Due to these findings, the shipment was seized and destroyed.
The Coca-Cola Company, in their defense, said the claims are unsupported by science and inaccurate. Moreover, lawyers for the Nigerian Bottling Company said that the products were not intended for export to other countries.
A spokesperson for Coca-Cola told the Independent that:
“All our products are safe and strictly adhere to regulations in the countries where they are sold, while complying with our company’s stringent global safety and quality standards.”
However, their defense, stating that any manufactured soft drink “ought to be fit for human consumption irrespective of color or creed,” was rejected by Judge Adedayo Oyebanji. The Lagos High Court ordered the NBC to place labels on Fanta and Sprite bottles to inform consumers about the possible health risks. Furthermore, the NAFDAC received a fine of $6,350 for failing to ensure health standards.
NAFDAC And NBC Are Appealing Against The Court Ruling
It was argued by both companies that Coke’s product doesn’t exceed the benzoic acid limit in Nigeria. They said that the limits set by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) vary by country, depending on some factors like climate and country regulations. Furthermore, they added that a higher temperature requires high levels of preservatives.
According to Sade Morgan, legal, public affairs, and communications director of the NBC, the standard limits of benzoic acid in soft drinks in the U.K. is set to a maximum of 150 mg/kg. Sprite and Fanta products coming from Nigeria, however, have recorded levels of 200 mg/kg, which is lower than the Nigerian regulatory limit of 250 mg/kg.
Health Minister Isaac Adewole insisted on opening an investigation into the safety of Coca-Cola products produced in Nigeria through the authorities and FAO claimed that the products are safe. The news regarding this issue spread like wildfire through Nigeria, thus resulting in fear among the public. Due to the fact that sodas are considered poisonous for humans in some parts of the world, many Nigerians are not sure anymore whether they still want to drink it.
While NBC and Coca-Cola are hoping for a successful appeal to restore trust and rebuild their reputation, many consumer groups called for immediate boycotts.