A Lagos State High Court in Igbosere has admonish the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and control to always ensure due diligence in its certification of food products for the consumption of Nigerians.
Justice Adedayo Oyebanji ordered NAFDAC with immediate effect ensure that the Nigerian Bottling Company indicated on the bottles of its products, that the soft drinks could not be taken along with Vitamin C.
The judge made the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed against the NBC and NAFDAC by a Lagos-based businessman, Dr. Emmanuel Fijabi Adebo, and his company, Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited.
The plaintiffs had approached the court seeking a declaration that the NBC was “negligent and breached the duty of care owed to its valued customers and consumers in the production of contaminated Fanta and Sprite soft drinks with excessive benzoic acid and sunset additive.”
Adebo had, in a statement of claim filed through his lawyer, Abiodun Onidare, told the court how sometime in March, 2007, his company purchased large quantities of Coca-Cola, Fanta Orange, Sprite, Fanta Lemon, Fanta Pineapple and Soda Water from the NBC and exported the products to the United Kingdom to be sold.
He, however, added that when the products arrived the UK, they were tested to be substandard by the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council’s Trading Standard Department of Environment and Economy Directorate and these products were further destroyed which caused him financial loss.
The court’s judgment was in favour of the plaintiffs against NBC and NAFDAC.
“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” Justice Oyebanji said.
“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.”
The judge added, “For the reasons herein adumbrated in this judgment, the court hereby orders as follows :
“That NAFDAC shall forthwith mandate the Nigeria 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.”