…Says it may lead to job loss
As more reactions trailed the last week’s judgement on the consumption of Sprite and Fanta soft drinks with Vitamin C, the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) has called for caution, warning that it may impact negatively on the workers.
The National President of the union, Lateef Oyelekan, at the weekend in Lagos said there should be proper scientific investigation before condemning Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Plc and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
According to him, this becomes necessary as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, was alleged to have filed an appeal and a motion to stay execution of a judgement on Sprite and Fanta soft drinks.
The NUFBTE President said NBC, as a major investor in the country should not be subjected to negative publicity without proper fact as it would endanger the company corporate profile.
“If this happens and it affects the bottom line of the company, the workers’ job would be threatened and this is not what we want at this period of economic recession”, he said.
Oyelekan said more Nigerians are already out of job due to the present economic challenges, stressing that those investors who are still operating against all odds should be commended.
He reasoned that NAFDAC had a track record of doing wonderful job and could not have faltered in its responsibility in relation to the issue at hand.
He said, “NAFDAC need not be blamed here, I believe the agency has been doing wonderfully wel. I recalled when contaminated milk was imported from China, it was NAFDAC that discovered it and raised alarm against its consumption, equally when expired tomato paste meant for repackaging was imported. Besides you see officials of the agency moving around the country just to ensure that both drugs and foods consumed in the country are safe”
The Labour leader stated that the said importer ought to have notified NBC of the intention to export the products to the UK, bearing in mind that every country has its own standard regarding manufacturing and investment, more so as the products are also available in the United Kingdom.
It could be recalled that an Igbosere High Court had last wek ordered the Agency to compel the Nigerian Bottling Company, NBC, Plc, to carry a mandatory warning on its Fanta and Sprite products, stating that the contents should not be taken with Vitamin C in order to avoid poisoning.
The court which berated NAFDAC for poor regulation of the products, popular among millions of Nigerians in a suit filed by Fijabi Adebo Holdings Limited and Emmanuel Adebo against the NBC and NAFDAC, had awarded a N2 million cost against NAFDAC.
Mr. Adebo’s company had tried to export fanta and sprite bottled in Nigeria to the UK before British authorities seized and destroyed the product for being poisonous by containing excess levels of benzoic acid and sunset additives.
The NBC in reaction to the judgement had said it was inaccurate and its products were safe.
“Both Fanta and Sprite have benzoic levels of 200 mg/kg which is lower than the Nigerian regulatory limit of 250 mg/kg when combined with ascorbic acid and 300 mg/kg without ascorbic acid and also lower than the 600 mg/kg international limit set by CODEX,” the company said.
In the same vein, Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Yetunde Oni, had said that the agency is a national regulatory authority and would react both scientifically and legally to the judgement.
“Our lawyer has filed an appeal and a motion to stay execution of action of the judgement also filed,” she was reported to have said.
The NBC had on Wednesday also appealed the court judgement saying it was not true that the drinks are poisonous when taken with Vitamin C.