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Is It Unsafe To Drink Coca Cola Products In Nigeria?

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Dear Fave,

In view of the recently concluded court case against the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) the manufacturers of Coca Cola products in Nigeria. Where the court ruled, NBC would have to put a warning label on their drinks saying that it is unsafe for their drinks to be consumed while taking vitamin C (ascorbic acid) because of the food preservatives contained in their drinks. It is important to know the effects of the food preservatives they use in food processing. Below is some information you might find useful:

  1. Is eating processed foods safe?

  2. What are food preservatives?

  3. Introduction to Sodium Benzoate… Advantages/disadvantages

  4. Physicians Advice

  1. Is eating processed foods safe?

Firstly, what are processed foods? These are simply foods that have been altered from their natural state, packaged in boxes, cans or bags for safety or convenience. On many occasions these foods go through many complex processing steps and contain additives, artificial flavoring or chemical ingredients. With that in mind, are they all safe? Some are, and others, unfortunately aren’t. Foods are often processed simply for convenience. This usually means large and sometimes dangerous amounts of hidden fats, sugar, salts, or preservatives are put into these processed foods.

  1. What are food preservatives?

The beauty of globalization means that food can be produced in the United States and consumed in Nigeria. Food preservatives are chemicals or packaging methods, manufacturers use during food processing with the general purpose to avoid spoilage during the transportation time.

It is done for basically three reasons;

-to preserve the natural characteristics of the food/product,

-to preserve the appearance or the food/product, and

-to increase the shelf lifevalue (prevent from early expiration or spoilage) of the food for storage.

Examples of food preservatives are Sugar and Salt which capably drop the growth of bacteria in food. Other examples are Sodium Nitrite, Sulphur Dioxide, Potassium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid and Sodium Benzoate, etc.

  1. Introduction to Sodium Benzoate… Advantages/disadvantages

Sodium Benzoate, which is not to be confused with Benzoic acid (good for acne) found in some fruits, Cinnamon, Cloves and Milk, is a sodium salt used in chemical preservation for products such as cosmetics, soft drinks, fruit juices, wines, dyes, Jam, vinegar, hot dogs, salad dressing, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, deodorant, ointments, shampoo, lotion, mouthwash, in industrial settings, and condiments to name a few.

For example, it slows down fermentation in wine and extends shelf life of other products, enabling them last longer before inevitable expiration.

When ingested, Sodium Benzoate goes to the liver where it is rapidly metabolized and is discharged from the body via urine by the kidneys.


Sodium Benzoate is used in the treatment of certain diseases like multiple sclerosis urea-cycle disorder, and Hyperammonemia (when there is too much ammonia in the blood). It helps regulate levels of ammonia in the blood and prevents the ammonia from getting too high. High levels of ammonia in your blood could damage your brain and nervous system.


While it is safe to take Sodium Benzoate in little amounts, it is never advisable to mix anything that contains sodium benzoate with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Simply put, it is very dangerous to mix sodium benzoate with vitamin C or citric acid because it creates a carcinogen called Benzene. Benzene is believed to cause leukemia, damage to the mitochondria in Cells, DNA damage, cell death, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or cancer. For this reason, it is not advisable to consume lots of soft drinks as the benzene levels are higher than in most foods, especially for children. It is for this reason that in some countries in Europe and North America, soft drink manufacturers have moved to remove artificial colors from the soft drink formulas.

  1. Physicians Advice

With this in mind it is important to note that even if you are not sensitive to Sodium Benzoate you could still be at risk if Sodium Benzoate is mixed with Vitamin C and becomes the Carcinogen Benzene. Therefore, if you wish to avoid exposure it is important to read product labels carefully and limit your consumption of this products. This will greatly reduce the risk of any harmful lasting effects to your person, especially for children.

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