Following the controversies generated by the recent court judgement on the rejection of some manufactured soft drinks exported from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, the Federal Government has set up a National Technical Committee to further look into the matter.
Inaugurating the Committee in his office, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole alluded to the concerns raised by stakeholders on the issue and the government’s commitment to the safety and wellbeing of Nigerians.
Professor Adewole said the terms of reference of the Committee would be to determine the safety of benzoic acid in foods, to determine if the use of benzoic acid can be replaced in foods, to ascertain if the levels of benzoic acid in carbonated drinks can be further reduced below 250mg/kg in Nigeria, to determine the frequency of monitoring of the safety levels of benzoic acid in foods and give any other advice that the National Technical Committee may deem necessary.
Members of the National Technical Committee were drawn from the Department of Chemistry, University of Lagos (UNILAG), the Food and Drugs Section of the Federal Ministry of Health, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers and representative of Civil Society Organisations.
The Committee, chaired by Professor Babajide Alo of UNILAG held its first meeting at the NAFDAC complex, Isolo in Lagos.
The Committee’s findings will form necessary data for consideration in future review of the Nigerian Industrial Standards for carbonated drinks which provides the benchmark for the product quality in the country.
It has two weeks within which to turn in its report to the Minister of Health.