The Federal Government through the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has said Mirinda and Lucozade soft drinks are unsafe for Nigerian consumers.
The council said both beverages contained benzoic acid level above the limit approved by the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS).
The Council said in a statement in Abuja that while the NIS limit for benzoic acid is 250mg/Kg, when combined with Vitamin C and 300mg/Kg without Vitamin C, test revealed that Mirinda, a product of 7UP Bottling Company, contained benzoic acid ranging between 0.56mg/L to 330.9mg/L.
It said Lucozade, formerly produced by Glaxo SmithKline, contained the acid between 2.26mg/L to 323.53mg/L.
The two companies were however not available for comments yesterday.
The council said the test was conducted at the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), a laboratory under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
The council said it obtained 65 samples of soft drinks from the open market in eight locations within the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, made up of Fanta Orange, Sprite, Mirinda and Lucozade.
“The Council also observed from the results that there were isolated cases of Mirinda and Lucozade with Benzoic Acid levels of 330.9mg/L and 323.53mg/L respectively, which are above the NIS limit,” the Director General of CPC, Mrs Dupe Atoki, said.
The Council further said the test found that benzoic acid levels in Fanta Orange ranged from 5.09mg/L to 197.0mg/L while that of Sprite ranged from 2.82mg/L to 239.0mg/L, indicating that both soft drinks were safe for Nigerian consumers as they contained benzoic acid within the limit approved by the NIS.
Atoki said NAFDAC and SON have been informed of the investigation and has recommended regulatory action and review of the “benzoic acid limits in soft drinks as the current standard, which has been in existence since 2008 is overdue for review.”
Effects of excess benzoic acid on the human system
Head Dietetics Department at the National Hospital, Abuja, Mrs Sarah Abagi said excess benzoic acid has negative effects on the skin, the nervous system and the skeletal system and bones.
She said benzoic acid should not be more than the approved limit or in large quantities in food and drinks especially carbonated drinks because of these effects and the diseases it cause, adding that it was used as an emulsifier and in body creams.
Asked the approved limit, she said deciding the approved limit for each country or area is usually done by experts like, food scientists and food technologists, biochemists and process engineers under the purview of regulatory organizations like National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Health experts also say that benzoic acids may react with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in some soft drinks, forming small quantities of benzene, which causes cancer and other ailments.
Some studies have also linked benzene with bone marrow failure, acute leukemia and aplastic anaemia.