By Abba-Eku Onyeka Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed its determination to generate her data on benzene level in soft drinks so as to achieve safe maximum level of benzoic acid or opt out for alternative preservatives.
The Director General (DG), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr. Osita Aboloma said this in his welcome address at the Technical Committee meeting on water, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks held in Abuja.
Represented by the Technical Assistant to the DG, Dr. Barth Ugwu, the SON Chief Executive posited that standards development and review were targeted among others, at ensuring the health and safety of consumers, as guide to manufacturers and importers, as well as to promote fair trade practices.
He alluded to the importance of the five draft standards to be considered by the committee, stressing that they involve products that are consumed widely and frequently by the generality of people across all age and economic strata. The draft standards were: Standard for Soft Drinks (for review); Standard for Energy Drinks; Standards for Ginger Drinks; Standard for Sparkling Fruit Drinks; and Standard for Fruit Squashes, Concentrate and Fruit Cordial Concentrates.
Energy drink according to him, was one of the most highly consumed non-alcoholic drinks by between 30-50 percent of youths and adolescents (NCBI-Paediatrics: 2011), stating that in recent times, adverse health effects are being attributed to the rate of consumption of the drinks due to the caffeine and sugar contents in them. This according to the DG underscored reason for the elaboration of the standards for energy drinks.
Mr. Osita Aboloma charged the technical committee members to exercise great diligence in carrying out their task towards achieving the objective of setting standards that would be adequately prescribe good quality and food safety requirements in line with international best practices.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Technical Committee, Professor Jide Alo represented by Prof. Segun Ayejuyo acknowledged the valuable contributions of the members through informed comments to the secretariat on the circulated drafts of the five standards under consideration and called for robust interactions that will ensure consensus, while having the safety and health of Consumers at heart.
He expressed the determination of the members to bring their vast and varied knowledge and wealth of experiences to bear on the deliberations and expressed the appreciation of the committee to the SON management for providing adequate secretarial support.