The Coca-Cola case: What else is unsafe for us?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the Coca-Cola, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) case making rounds. In case you haven’t here’s a summary. A businessman purchased a large cargo of coca cola products and exported it to the UK, for the purpose of retailing them. On arrival, it was tested as per their requirement and it was discovered that the Fanta and sprite we have been consuming are in fact unfit for human consumption. They contained high levels of toxic substance mainly Sunset Yellow and Benzoic Acid. And also when these products are taken with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) they become poisonous. His consignment was destroyed by the UK authorities. The case had been in court for the past ten years and they just resolved it.
The case just makes you think, “what else are we consuming that is unsafe for us?”. We know how our regulatory systems work here in Nigeria. I’m sure if we were to scrutinize all our products using UK or US standards a whole lot more products will be declared unfit for human consumption. That’s just me speculating. If this case resulted from a product that was in fact tested and approved then imagine all the other products being sold that have not even been tested or approved. If you’ve ever tried to obtain an approval from NAFDAC, you’ll know what a nightmare it can be. A friend of mine started a small scale manufacturing business, for cosmetics, and there is no day she does not lament how tedious it is to get approval from NAFDAC. The process can be quite thorough and rigid. So, it makes me wonder how this particular coca cola product just slipped through. Perhaps as with so many sectors of our country there is an element of corruption involved. Who is to say?
I believe there are so much more poisons out there that we consume, unknowingly. From packaged goods to contaminated farm products. Some of us at our levels and positions cannot control the regulatory bodies, so my advice is simple. Read labels as much as possible, reduce consumption of processed foods, ensure proper cooking techniques, and above all, pay attention to how your body responds to what you ingest. People complain of heartburn, nausea, bloating, reflux, headaches etc. after consuming certain products. Maybe you need to eat less of those. And as medical personnel, we need to try and observe certain symptom trends amongst our patients and probe about their diets and eating habits. The solution could be as simple as eliminating a poison they have been consuming.