Assembly raises the alarm over imported intoxicating ‘non-alcoholic’ drinks

Lagos State Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa

Lagos State Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa

The Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday raised the alarm over the influx of ‘alcohol-free’ drinks becoming highly intoxicating when consumed.

At its plenary presided over by Speaker Mudashiru Obasa yesterday where some of the assorted drinks (wine) were displayed, the House suspected that the drinks were actually alcoholic drinks that had been “re-labeled” as non-alcoholic to mislead consumers.

The Assembly said that the drinks, which are all imported and sold on the shelves of big malls and mini-supermarkets, have alcoholic contents ranging from 0.05 to 2.27 per cent Alcohol by Volume (AbV) despite being labelled non-alcoholic.

The lawmakers said while the act was fraudulent and liable under the law, the health implication to unsuspecting pregnant women, teetotalers and other alcohol abstainers, should worry the appropriate authorities.

The legislators, in Motion number 36, therefore, called on the Federal Government to direct the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to always verify content and quality of imported non-alcoholic beverages and sensitise the public on the need to scrutinise every beverage before consumption to ensure compliance.

They also urged the state governor to direct the Consumer Protection Agency in the state to ensure that all products within the state meet stipulated standards of government.

Prime mover of the motion and member representing Eti-Osa II constituency, Gbolahan Yishawu, noted that the consumption of alcoholic beverages had been considered normal, especially when drunk without outright intoxication in Nigeria and other parts of the globe.

Yishawu added that manufacturers all over the world have overtime been reeling out non-alcoholic drinks into the market to cater for consumers, hence non-alcoholic drinks are as popular and prevalent in the market as alcoholic ones.

He said while “non-alcoholic” is presumed to describe a beverage that contains 0.0 per AbV, it had been found with dismay that several “imported non-alcoholic in the big shopping malls to small supermarkets in Lagos State and across the country actually contain alcohol ranging from 0.05 – 2.27 per AbV depending on the country where it is being imported from.”

Commending the mover, the Deputy Majority Leader, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, informed the House that the act was actually deliberate on the part of importers, so as to pay lesser duty on the products.

Jimoh said that since the military era, government had levied higher duty on alcoholic drinks.

The lawmaker representing Kosofe II Constituency, Tunde Buraimoh, informed the House that the act of re-labeling alcoholic drinks was criminal and punishable by law.

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