The federal government says the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) did not breach the standards of production in Nigeria, certifying Fanta and Sprite safe for consumption.
In a statement released by Boade Akinola, director of media and public relations of the ministry of health, the government said NBC passed a routine test in December 2016.
A Lagos state high court had earlier ruled that the soft drinks contain ingredients that could turn poisonous in the presence of Vitamin C.
The court also asked NAFDAC to direct the company to insert a warning on the containers of the products that the contents should not be taken with Vitamin C.
“In the case of Benzoic acid, the standard set by Codex was 600mg/kg until recently reviewed to 250mg/kg and adopted in 2016. (CODEX STAN 192-1995 revised 2015 and 2016),” the statement read.
“With reference to the Codex standard and other relevant documents, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) 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. (NIS 217:2008)
“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.
“These levels are in compliance with both the Codex and Nigeria industrial standards.”
Adewole said the products were safe for consumption, adding that the claimant, Fijabi and Holdings, did not obtain NAFDAC certification before export or he would have been informed of the standards of the destination country.
“Due to the different environmental conditions obtainable in the UK, the standard for benzoic acid was set at a lower limit of 150mg/kg while in Nigeria it was set at 250mg/kg even below that of Codex (as at time of production of that batch; Codex limit was 600mgkg),” he said.
“The claimant did not obtain NAFDAC certification before export, otherwise, he would have been advised on the required standard of the destination country.”
The minister advised Nigerians to take medicines with water to avoid unexpected drug-food reactions and bottling companies to insert advisory warnings on all products.