By Joseph INOKOTONG
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has instituted an investigation into the safety of additives in Nigerian Bottling Company’s Fanta and Sprite with a view to safeguarding consumers.
The Council’s action came on the heels of a recent court judgment which alleged that consumption of Fanta and Sprite, two products of Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), could be harmful if taken with Vitamin C, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has instituted an investigation into the issue with a view to safeguarding consumers.
Announcing the Council’s position to the media on Thursday, CPC’s Director General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, pointed out that the investigation became inevitable in view of the safety issue raised by the judgment.
Mrs. Atoki stated that the Council “is keenly interested and extremely concerned about the questions that have arisen from, and on account of this judgement”, adding that “as such upon the discoveries therein, the CPC is launching a broad and detailed investigation as a matter of urgency”.
She said: “Indeed the judgement only serves as the subject of bringing this information to CPC’s attention, the Council would conduct its own independent investigation. The reason for CPC’s interest is not far-fetched. For years, 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.
“In addition, Vitamin C is one of the most consumed medications for both children and adults, both as a matter of prescription/ over the counter and, or as dietary supplement. Essentially, both the NBC products and Vitamin C are routinely consumed in Nigeria with absolutely no restrictions to access and availability” she added.
The director general hinted that the key questions in the investigation would include “Is Sprite/Fanta at the time of production potentially harmful to consumers when consumed with Vitamin C? If yes, what is NBC’s obligation to consumers and has NBC fully discharged that obligation?”, adding that “pursuant to the Consumer Protection Council Act, the Council is interested in discovering what steps if any, NBC took after the testing and confiscation of Fanta and Sprite by the United Kingdom’s authorities”.
While fielding questions from journalists at the press conference, Mrs. Atoki asserted that it would be hasty for CPC to make any categorical directive to consumers on the products without carrying out the necessary investigations.
She disclosed that the Council had already engaged NBC in furtherance of the investigation, stating that the bottling company has been given seven days to respond to “us because we asked them for a lot of documentation.
“We want to be free and fair. We do not want to base our decisions on what someone else has analysed. We have given them seven days within which to provide this information. And let me say that this will also involve us inviting experts to testify as to the various components and the effect on the consumers” Mrs. Atoki stated.
On the time frame for the investigation, she said: “To say that it will take two to three weeks or even a month, I may not be able to say so, but because of the urgency, we will fast track all the processes and come to a very quick conclusion”.