WARNING: Fanta, Sprite Combined With Vitamin C Is Dangerous To Your Health – Court Rules
Fanta and Sprite have been declared dangerous to health when combined with Vitamin C by a Lagos High Court. In a report by Sahara reporters, a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere ordered the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to mandate the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Plc to include a Written Warning (similar to tobacco warnings) on Fanta and Sprite bottles stating that both soft drinks are ‘poisonous when consumed along with Vitamin C’.
In a judgment by Justice Adedayo Oyebanji, the court awarded a fine of Two Million Naira (N2,000, 000) against NAFDAC as a result of a suit filed by a Lagos-based businessman, Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, against NBC Plc and NAFDAC.
Mr. Adebo, in the suit, accused NBC of negligence to its consumers by bottling Fanta and Sprite with excessive levels of benzoic acid and sunset yellow additives. He also urged the court to order NAFDAC to carry out routine laboratory tests on all products produced by NBC.
The claims of the suit allege that in March 2007, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Company bought large quantities of Coca-Cola, Fanta Orange, Sprite, Fanta Lemon, Fanta Pineapple and soda water from NBC for export to and subsequent retail in the United Kingdom.
However, on arrival to the United Kingdom, health authorities- Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council’s Trading Standard, Department of Environment and Economy Directorate, raised fundamental health issues on the contents and composition of Fanta and Sprite.
The products were found to contain excessive levels of sunset yellow and benzoic acid, which are known to be carcinogenic. On account of this. The products were seized and destroyed, accumulating in a loss for Mr. Abedo’s company. In addition to other reliefs, Mr. Adebo and his company sought the sum of N15,119,619.37 as special damages and N1,622,000 being the money NBC admitted receiving from the claimants.
In its amended statement of defense, filed before the court by Mr. T. O. Busari, NBC admitted supplying the products but contended that they are meant for local distribution and consumption, as it does not produce for export. It argued that Coca-Cola is manufactured and bottled by various Coca-Cola franchise holders in most countries of the world, including the United Kingdom.
NBC further contended that the claims made by Mr. Adebo and his company were speculative, frivolous and vexatious and should be dismissed with substantial cost. NAFDAC did not file any defense.
In defense, Mr. Adebo testified and tendered 12 exhibits as evidence led by his counsel Mr. Onidare. NBC’s Sales Operation Manager, Mr. Micheal Nwosu China, and its Head of Central Laboratory, Mr. Abiodun Adeola Falana, both testified on the bottling company’s behalf and also tendered 12 exhibits.
In her judgment, Justice Oyebanji said:
“It is imperative to state that the knowledge of the Nigeria Bottling Company that the products were to be exported is immaterial to its being fit for human consumption. The court is in absolute agreement with the learned counsel for the claimants that soft drinks manufactured by Nigeria bottling company ought to be fit for human consumption irrespective of color or creed.
“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 or Sprite.
“As earlier stated, the court is in absolute agreement with the learned counsel for the claimants that consumable products ought to be fit for human consumption irrespective of race, color or creed.”
Justice Oyebanji also held that by its certification as satisfactory, Fanta and Sprite, without any written warning on the products that it cannot be taken with Vitamin C, NAFDAC would have caused great harm to the health of unsuspecting Nigerians.
“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 Nigeria bottling company to, within 90 days thereof, 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,”.