NBC allays fears over Benzoic Acid in soft drinks


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The management of the Nigerian Bottling Company has made clarifications following safety concerns in recent times over the use of  benzoic and ascorbic acids in its products.


In a statement made available to Brand Communicator, the management of NBC noted that it operates well within the international and national standard of Benzoic level approved in products. It says, “Both Fanta and Sprite have benzoic levels of 200 mg/kg which is lower than the Nigerian regulatory limit of 250 mg/kg when combined with ascorbic acid and 300 mg/kg without ascorbic acid and also lower than the 600 mg/kg international limit set by CODEX.


“Both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) are ingredients approved by international food safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the world,” the statement stated.


According to the statement, the permissible ingredient levels set by countries for their food and beverage products differs and are  influenced by a number of factors such as climate, an example being the UK, a temperate region, requiring lower preservative levels unlike tropical countries.  That is why UK standards limit benzoic acid in soft drinks to a maximum of 150 mg/kg.


The statement also debunks claims that it is unsafe to use its product with Vitamin C. “Given the fact that the benzoic and ascorbic acid levels in Fanta as well as the benzoic acid level in Sprite produced and sold by NBC in Nigeria are in compliance with the levels approved by all relevant national regulators and the international level set by CODEX, there is no truth in the report that these products would become poisonous if consumed alongside Vitamin C.


“The wrong perception emanating from the media reports that our Fanta and Sprite beverages which are fully compliant with all national and international food quality and safety standards are unsafe, simply because their levels of Benzoic acid were not within the UK standards, is not only unfounded but also undermines the entire food and beverage industry in Nigeria which is regulated by the same ingredient levels approved by NAFDAC and other regulatory bodies for the country.”


 It will be recalled that in a judgement delivered on February 15, 2017 in a suit involving Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited & Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo v. Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC) & National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), a Lagos High Court dismissed all claims against NBC and held that the company had not breached its duty of care to consumers and that there was no proven case of negligence against it. 


In the same judgment, however, the court directed NAFDAC to mandate NBC to include a warning on its bottles of Fanta and Sprite that its contents cannot be taken with Vitamin C as same become poisonous if taken with Vitamin C. This order was premised on the fact that the products contain the preservative, benzoic acid. NBC has since appealed this order.

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