- The inefficiency of regulatory bodies in Nigeria has been a reoccurring issue
- The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) fall into this category
- Both agencies have looked the other way as producers get away with unhealthy practices
A report by Premium Times indicates that SON and NAFDAC have failed to protect the lives of Nigerians at risk due to sub-standard products.
According to the report, both agencies have failed to act two months after the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) reported alarming levels of benzoic acid in Mirinda and Lucozade drinks.
The CPC had in April revealed that the benzoic levels in the two drinks were above the regulatory standard of 250mg/k.
It called for the review of the acid content in both drinks after investigating safety concerns raised by consumers on Fanta, Sprite and selected soft drinks in the country.
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A spokesperson for SON, Mr Bola Fashina, merely said the issue of benzoic acid was a “standard issue” when contacted.
His words: “The standard in Nigeria is usually reviewed every five years and there must be a reason for any standard to be changed and even the CPC takes part in this review.
“NAFDAC, SON, CPC and manufacturers of these products are all part of the standard review and in the case of soft drinks, the minimum requirement for Nigeria is set out and it is for all soft drinks.”
Sister agency, NAFDAC, did not respond to requests for comment.
The agency’s director for special duties/media, Jimoh Abubakar, did not pick or return calls to his phone, and did not respond to text messages and letters.
The CPC said it had done its job by investigating and reporting the violations, and that it was left for other agencies to take action.
Benzoic acid is a white, crystalline powder with a faint, non-offensive odour.
Though it is used as a preservative, it can cause cancer if used excessively and has been linked to asthma problems and increased levels of hyperactivity in children.
Benzoic acid is also used to manufacture a wide variety of products such as perfumes, dyes, topical medications and insect repellents.
The findings by CPC are in line with those of a recent research by Nigerian scholars titled “Levels of Benzoic Acid, Sulphur (IV) Oxide and Sorbic Acid in Carbonated Drinks Sold in Lagos, Nigeria”.
The research was conducted by Onwordi C.T, chemistry department, Lagos State University; Olarenwaju A.J, environmental and nano sciences group, chemistry department, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; Wuse A.D, biochemistry department, Lagos State University and Oguntade B.K, department of science laboratory technology. Federal polytechnic Ilaro, Ogun state.
It showed that 71.4 per cent of carbonated drinks samples analysed had benzoic acid level above the stipulated limits.
Few weeks ago, a court ordered NAFDAC to direct the Nigeria Bottling Company Plc, manufacturers of Fanta and Sprite soft drinks, to include a warning on the bottles of the products that the content cannot be taken with Vitamin C.
It is of course vital that you be careful what you take as these soft drinks could be harmful to one's health. In the video below, NAIJ.com TV hit the streets to ask Nigerians if they still take the drink.