A Nigerian court has labeled Coke products Fanta and Sprite manufactured by the Nigerian Bottle Company as unfit for human consumption due to to the chemical reaction within the drinks that it says produces benzene. Nine years of deliberation has led to the court’s decision to declare the two drinks “poisonous,” because the high levels of benzoic acid and ascorbic acid combine to produce benzene.
The chemical benzene is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to serious blood diseases such as leukemia, specifically AML and MDS. World Now News described the drinks as a “ticking health bomb.”
The struggle began in 2007 when Fijabi Adebo, the owner of a Manchester store that stocks Coca Cola products, had an entire shipment of Fanta and Sprite imported from Nigeria confiscated by UK customs. The officers explained that the drinks may not be “authentic.”
British Health Authorities moved forward with testing the drinks, and when they were found to contain excessive levels of combination of benzoic acid (the chemical added to extend shelf life) with sunset yellow coloring and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), the batch was destroyed. Adebo was never compensated for the shipment. He attempted to sue the Nigerian Bottle Company (NBC) to regain the loss, but the company refused to help.
Adebo then appealed to the NAFADAC, Nigeria’s FDA, resulting in the high court of Lagos demanded the bottling company attach warning labels to the dangerous products.
The company refused.
Adebo’s fight has transformed from regaining his money to protecting the health of his fellow Nigerians. He is now doing what he can to bring European health standards to his country.
“We should not have a product that is considered substandard in other European countries,” Adebo explained.
But the Nigerian Bottling Company defended its drink formula. Sade Morgan, legal, public affairs and communications director of the company, wrote in a statement, “The permissible ingredient levels set by countries for their food and beverage products are influenced by a number of factors such as climate, an example being the UK, a temperate region, requiring lower preservative levels unlike tropical countries.”