Friday, 27 October 2017

The Differrent colour of Coke in Nigeria and abroad - The Health Consequences

Even before the senate’s re­cent decision to conduct an investigation into the locally produced coca- cola drink, popularly called ‘Coke’, Nigerians have had mixed feel­ings about soft drinks in gener­al.

The concern stemmed from information explosion where­in Nigerians are catching up with people in industrialised countries in becoming health conscious. And the issue was brought to public consciousness when a Lagos High Court pre­sided over by Justice Adedayo Oyebanji in March this year gave a ruling in a suit brought by a businessman, Dr. Emma­nuel Fijabi against the Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC), man­ufacturers of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite brands of soft drinks.

In its ruling the court ordered the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to direct the NBC to put out a warning label on Fanta and Sprite (sub­ject of the litigation) that they are dangerous when consumed with Vitamin C. Fijabi had tak­en the company to court follow­ing confiscation of a consign­ment of Sprite and Fanta he had shipped to the United Kingdom (UK).

The UK authorities based their action on the fact that both products after tests contained high levels of benzoic acid and sunflower additives that were not permissible in their nation. The NBC had reportedly argued that its Nigeria-made products, under franchise, are not meant for export.

The Differrent colour of Coke in Nigeria and abroad - The Health Consequences

This in itself implies that the chemical composition of the Fanta, Sprite and coke that we drink here is different from those in European countries. Indeed, it is always said that the taste of coke sold in Nigeria is not same as those in Amer­ica and Europe. The argument could be that the differing weather conditions in both con­tinents (Africa and Europe) per­mits of different chemical lev­els for the products’ sustainable shelf life.

NBC in fact, main­tained that the percentages of chemical components of its soft drinks are safe for consumption in Nigeria, adding that they pass through its “stringent” quali­ty control processes. However, the judge ruled that the prod­ucts ought to be fit for human consumption at any place.

Said he, “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. In my respective view, NAFDAC has failed the citizens of this great nation by its certification as satisfactory for human con­sumption products which in the United Kingdom failed sample test for human consumption and which become poison­ous in the presence of Ascorbic Acid ordinarily known as Vita­min C, which can be freely tak­en by the unsuspecting public with the company’s Fanta and Sprite. … Consumable products ought to be fit for human con­sumption irrespective of race, colour or creed”.

After this ruling mandat­ing NAFDAC to direct NBC to warn its consumers about the health hazards inherent in tak­ing its soft drinks with Vitamin C., the ministry of health came out with a statement assur­ing the public that soft drinks produced in Nigeria are safe. Coca-Cola international also said, “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”.

The company re­portedly said it would appeal the judgement. Nonetheless; these have not stopped many Nigerians from fretting about the health implications of soft drinks as local drinks such as kunu, zobo are becoming more popular especially as they are more affordable in comparison to current prices of soft drinks. Former head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) at the wedding reception for his last daughter served only bottled water, zobo, kunu and the like to guests rather than having the VIP tables laced with assorted beverages as is the practice.



  1. Ethics require that you give byline(name of the original writer, which happens to be me as you are copying from a published article