The Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) has corroborated the federal Ministry of Health’s early stand that benzoate was a safe preservative for foods and drinks in the country.
Speaking with the media recently in Lagos, the 1st Vice National President, NIFST, Dr. Oluwole Toye said the use of benzoate which includes benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate and calcium benzoate as food and beverage additives is internationally acceptable.
He said Codex Committee on Food Activities in 2004 adopted the maximum use level for sodium, potassium, calcium benzoates and benzoic acid at the level of 600ppm for food category which comprises water based drinks, adding that this was the acceptable regulatory standard and serves as a global baseline.
He said it was within the specification level from Codex that Nigeria (National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), industry and other relevant stakeholders) adopted 250mg/kg as its level for these additives for the category of products. This level was an action to cope with our environmental situation, since these products were not thermally treated, hence requires a level of acidity to keep them safe.
“So Nigeria’s approval of 250mg/kg of these additives is within the internationally permitted maximum of 600mg/kg and it is reasonable within our climatic conditions. Therefore the products are considered to be safe for consumption within Nigerian population.
“In 2014, the 48th session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives lowered the maximum level for these additives in the stated food category from 600mg/kg to 250mg/kg as a result of an exposure estimate on benzoate conducted by Joint Export Committee on Food Additives (JECFA),” he noted.
According to him, this level can in no way cause harm to Nigerians who take foods and drinks with such additives.
The nutritionist therefore commended NAFDAC for its proactive measure in ensuring that all guidelines for production of foods and drugs in the country were adhered to.