The Lagos High court in Nigeria has mandated the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to order the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) to indicate on the bottles of their products (Fanta and Sprite) that they cannot be consumed with Vitamin C.
The order was given by Justice Adedayo Oyebanji in accordance with a suit filed by a businessman, Fiji Adebo together with his firm, Fiji Adebo Holdings Ltd.
According to the affidavit, Mr Adebo who was exporting some NBC products to the UK was unable to finalise this. The reason being that Fanta and Sprite failed to pass UK Health Authorities human consumption test. The drinks became poisonous when mixed with ascorbic acid.
Although the claimants demanded N15.1 million as special damages and N1.6 million (money originally paid to NBC), the NBC has refused to comply stating that although the drinks were not safe for consumption in the UK, they were good for consumption in Nigeria. Hence the bottling company argued that the claimants were not entitled to the recovery of damages which resulted in their exportation of products meant for Nigerian consumption and distribution.
The presiding Judge nonetheless argued that regardless of NBC’s claims, these products ought to be consumable irrespective of “color or creed”.
He further chided the NAFDAC for their negligence regarding the consumption of Fanta and Sprite.
“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,
“The court, in the light of the damning evidence before it showing that NAFDAC has failed to live up to expectations, cannot close its eyes to the grievous implication of allowing the status quo to continue as it is,” the judge said.
He further ordered NAFDAC to order the NBC to, within 90 days indicate on all bottles of Fanta and Sprite that they cannot be consumed with Vitamin C ( Ascorbic acid).
The judge also fined NAFDAC the total of N2 million due to the case having been in the court for the past nine years.
“Interest shall be paid on the costs awarded at the rate of 10% per annum until liquidation of the said sum,” he said.