BENSON Idahosa University, BIU, located in Benin City, the Edo State capital, has faulted the Federal Government’s clearance that Fanta and Sprite beverages were good for consumption.
The institution has insisted that the information or data provided by the government on the beverages fell short of addressing the safety concerns raised in court.
It will be recalled that a Lagos High Court had ordered the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to compel the Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC, the manufacturer of Fanta and Sprite, to include a written warning label that the content of the two products should not be taken with Vitamin C.
At a media briefing held in the institution, some scientists at the BIU, led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ernest Izevbigie, raised concern over the clean bill of health given to Nigerians to consume Fanta and Sprite, saying that as an ivory tower, the institution owed the society a responsibility to provide expert opinion on the matter.
The Professor of Biochemistry, said answers provided to questions such as the presence and amount of colourant in Fanta, the presence and concentration of benzoic acid or sodium benzoate in the two beverages and the presence and concentration of benzene that results from conversion of benzoic acid to benzene, were not satisfactory.
He stated that the colourant used in Fanta, the yellow sunset, had been implicated in cytotoxicity, carcinogenesis, allergies and hyper activity in children when the right amount is not used.
On benzoic acid, he said the Federal Ministry of Health has explanation to give on why standard given for it in soft drinks was put at 250mg/kg as opposed to 150mg/kg that was obtainable in the United Kingdom and Ghana.
Izevbigie, who noted that though the Nigerian standard was high owing to high temperature , stressed that it still falls within the international standard.
The don has however postulated that pasteurization and the use of carbon dioxide can achieve the same goal as the use of high benzoic acid without the added health risks.