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Reps probe NBC, others

The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to investigate the operations of the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited to ascertain the safety of its soft drinks for consumption by Nigerians.

The NBC produces and markets popular brands like Coke, Fanta and Sprite in the country.

The investigation will also cover other firms producing soft drinks in the country.

The House ordered the probe following the controversy surrounding the alleged high concentration of benzoic acid and sunset yellow additives in Fanta and Sprite.

Health risks are said to be the end result for consumers if the products are taken in combination with ascorbic acid, better known as Vitamin C.

A member of the House, Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye, had moved a motion to draw the attention of lawmakers to the health risks that Nigerians faced by taking the soft drinks with Vitamin C.

Agunsoye recalled how tests conducted by the United Kingdom’s health authorities on Nigeria-made Fanta and Sprite concluded that they were “handful for human consumption.”

He said Nigerians became alarmed when the company’s response was that the products were “never intended be taken outside the country, which in other words, means that they were produced for consumption in Nigeria only.”

There was an angry reaction from lawmakers on the floor as the debate progressed.

Some called for the outright suspension of the marketing of the products in the country to protect the lives of the citizens.

Others suggested that NBC should print a warning on the bottles of the products to read, “On Your Own” for consuming the products.

The Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, told members that the health risks were real as the issue emanated from a court judgement.

Gbajabiamila, a lawyer, spoke further, “This motion is not even an allegation. It is real and factual. It came from a court judgement and facts were deduced. Coca-Cola did not deny that its products in Nigeria are meant for consumption in Nigeria alone.

“This matter is about the security and welfare of Nigerians. When it is about the security and welfare of the people who sent us here, we owe them a duty to defend their safety. I had thought that as an international brand, Coca-Cola should have a standard quality control system applicable to all countries.”

Another member, Mr. Henry Achibong, observed, “If they admitted that the drinks were meant only for the Nigerian market, it implies that they want Nigerians to take the drinks and die.”

Another member, Mr. Razak Atunwa, noted that Nigerians who had the opportunity of tasting Coca-Cola products in other countries, would easily testify that they tasted differently compared to the Nigerian products.


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