Food Additives in Soda ‘Poisonous’, Rules Judge in Nigeria

Those consumers who have followed our blog for the past decade or have read our book based on an exhaustive review of hundreds of scientific studies, consumer reports and clinical trials on the most commonly used food chemicals, are familiar with the potential problems associated with benzoic acid / sodium benozate (commonly used as a preservative in processed foods) and synthetic food dyes such as Sunset Yellow (Yellow Dye 6).  (See our summary papers here and here, our book, and the Food Additive to Avoid Listing [FATAL] for more info)  Apparently a judge in Nigeria has also familiarized himself with these scientific findings because the court has just ruled that at least two food chemicals contained in the Coca-Cola produced sodas “Sprite” and “Fanta” are dangerous enough to warrant consumer warnings on the product labels.

Of course even if the U.S. had judges who familiarized themselves with the scientific research findings about the potential dangers of commonly used synthetic and industrialized food additives we would never see such bold action taken as requiring consumer warning labels on products containing questionable additives.  That is because Big Food plays such a pivotal role in helping to prop up key U.S. entities including politicians (through campaign contributions), mainstream media (by way of providing major advertising dollars), and investors (ongoing handsome profits). And that does not even count the billions and billions of dollars both Big Food and Big Chemical throw at lobbying efforts every year to influence those in power in both the legislative and regulatory branches.

So while U.S. consumers who want to avoid potential health problems are left to their own devices, fortunately Nigerian consumers (who, like U.S. consumers, face mounting public health problems) can now make educated choices about the potential risks linked with at least two of the chemicals of concern commonly used in processed foods.  It remains to be seen whether Coca-Cola’s lobbying powers with politicians and regulatory bodies will prove to be as strong in Nigeria as they are here in the U.S.


Nigerians boycott Coca-Cola drinks after court rules them ‘poisonous’

CNN World Report

A Lagos Nigeria High Court judge, who ruled that the Coca-Cola products could be “poisonous.”…

The court held that high levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives in the popular soft drinks could pose a health risk to consumers when mixed with ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C…

Justice Adedayo Oyebanji ordered the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) to place written warnings on Fanta and Sprite bottles against drinking them with vitamin C…



The incendiary judgment followed a lawsuit brought against regulator NAFDAC and the NBC — a member of Coca-Cola Hellenic group which bottles Coca-Cola products in Nigeria — by Lagos businessman Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo.

The claimant’s company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited, attempted to export Coca-Cola products to the United Kingdom for retail in February 2007. But authorities in the UK seized and subsequently destroyed a shipment, because the products contained excessive levels of sunset yellow and benzoic acid. The latter substance can form the carcinogen benzene when combined with ascorbic acid, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).



Consumer backlash

Attempts to downplay the controversy are unlikely to succeed, at least in the short term, as alarm spreads among consumers. Nigeria’s Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has opened its own investigation.
“(The council) is extremely concerned about the questions that have arisen from, and on account of this judgement,” said Director General, Mrs Dupe Atoki. “Fanta, Sprite and Coca Cola have arguably and consistently been the most widely consumed beverages in Nigeria. The spectrum of consumption is also perhaps the widest, with consumption starting as early as age four and far into adult years.”
Since the verdict was made public, some citizens are choosing to stop drinking Coca-Cola products, with others calling for a boycott.

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