Nigerian Bottling Company, NBC, the local bottler of Coca-Cola in Nigeria will be spending huge amount of money to print warnings on bottles of Fanta and Sprite.
Two of its major brands Fanta and Sprite were said to be containing excessive levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives, chemical agents confirmed to be poisonous when consumed with Vitamin C.
A Lagos High Court ruled that NBC must put warning on Fanta and Sprite bottles stating that both soft drinks are poisonous when consumed along with Vitamin C.
The court also affirmed that the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was irresponsible in the handling of the matter. NAFDAC is the government agency meant to check, regulate and sanction all delinquent foods and drug companies in Nigeria.
The lawsuit was filed by a Lagos-based businessman, Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, against NBC Plc and NAFDAC. The judge awarded NGN2 million against the agency.
Presiding Judge Oyebanji ruled that:
“The court, in the light of the damning evidence before it showing that NAFDAC has failed to live up to expectation, cannot close its eyes to the grievous implication of allowing the status quo to continue as it is.
“For the reasons herein adumbrated in this judgment, the court hereby orders as follows :
“That NAFDAC shall forthwith mandate Nigerian 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”.
The company has not issued a formal statement on the matter. The cost of printing on all the bottles will be humongous to the company. Fanta and Sprite are two of its key brands distributed across Nigeria in cans, bottle and pet bottles. A recall of all products will also harm its sales and revenue.