A Lagos state high court has ruled that Fanta and Sprite, soft drinks produced by the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) must not be used to consume Vitamin C ‘because they became poisonous’.
This ruling followed the result of a 2008 suit filed by one Emmanuel Adebo, a Nigerian businessman, after his company was unable to sell large quantities of the drinks in the United Kingdom.
Adedayo Oyebanji, the presiding judge, asked the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to inform the manufacturer of Sprit and Fanta to include a warning note on the containers of the product that its content cannot be taken with Vitamin C.
According to Abiodun Onidare, Emmanuel’s lawyer, the drinks are unfit for human consumption “because they became poisonous” after being mixed with Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
“These results were corroborated by other agencies in European Union countries, which found the products to contain excessive levels of sunset yellow and benzoic acid, additives which are known to be carcinogenic (capable of causing cancer),” he said.
NBC in its defense, said that products were meant meant for local distribution and consumption.
In her judgement, Oyebanji said “The court is in absolute agreement with the learned counsel for the claimants that soft drinks manufactured by Nigeria Bottling Company ought to be fit for human consumption irrespective of race, colour or creed,” she held.
“It is manifest that NAFDAC has been grossly irresponsible in its regulatory duties to the consumers of Fanta and Sprite manufactured by Nigeria Bottling Company.
“The court, in the light of the damning evidence before it showing that NAFDAC has failed to live up to expectations, cannot close its eyes to the grievous implication of allowing the status quo to continue as it is,” she held.
“That NAFDAC shall forthwith mandate Nigeria Bottling Company to, within 90 days hereof, include on all the bottles of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks manufactured by the company, a written warning that the content of the said bottles of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks cannot be taken with Vitamin C as same becomes poisonous if taken with Vitamin C.
“In consideration of the fact that this case was filed in 2008 and that it has been in court for nine years, costs of N2 million is awarded against NAFDAC. Interest shall be paid on the costs awarded at the rate of 10% per annum until liquidation of the said sum.”