"The permissible ingredient levels set by countries for their food and beverage products are influenced by a number of factors such as climate, an example being the UK, a temperate region, requiring lower preservative levels unlike tropical countries."
Codex recently reduced its international limit for benzoic acid volume from 600 mg/kg to 250 mg/kg, and is considering a further reduction in the coming years.
"The previous levels are still considered as safe -- they are just not necessary," says Tom Heilandt, secretary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, explaining the change. "More work will be done over the next few years to see if the levels could be further adjusted."
The levels found in Nigeria Coca-Cola products should not pose health risks, according to Dr Markus Lipp, a senior food safety officer at the FAO.
"The current acceptable limit for benzoates by the Codex Alimentarius Commission is set to be 250mg/kg," he told CNN. "This maximum use limit has a temporary designation, but nevertheless is considered for now to be appropriately health protective."
"There simply does not seem to be health concern from our perspective," Lipp said of the Lagos case. Nigeria's health ministry also released a statement claiming that the products are safe.
"NAFDAC and SON (Standards Organization of Nigeria) regularly monitor the manufacturing practices of food industries and conduct laboratory analysis to ascertain continuous compliance with required national standards," said the statement.
However, Health Minister Isaac Adewole insisted that the government is responding to public concerns, and has opened an investigation into the safety of Coca-Cola products made in Nigeria.
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