Nigerian consumer agency launches inquiry into ‘non-melting’ Blue Band margarine

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The Consumer Protection Council, CPC, says it has opened an inquiry into aspects of Blue Band products.

It stated that the inquiry would determine product safety and clarify some aspects of the manufacturer’s statements on Blue Band “Spread for Bread”.

The CPC Director General, Babatunde Irukera, said this in a statement issued by the organisation on Sunday in Abuja,

He said the purpose of the inquiry was to ensure that the products, differentiated or otherwise, were safe and subjected to proper processes and “in-trade” handling consistent with the different properties and characteristics of each product.

This is in reaction to a short demonstration video on social media showing how Blue Band “Spread for Bread” reacts under certain heat conditions.

He said that the video or the impression it conveyed had become the subject of anxiety and intense controversy.

“It suggests that the product, which the narrator considers a functional equivalent of “Blue Band Original”, is unsafe because when subjected to high temperature in boiling water, it did not melt or dissolve.

“Available scientific information confirms that though butter, margarine and spread appear similar and share similar components, in characteristics and uses, they are different products available to consumers.

“Butter and margarine share a particular similar characteristic, low resistance to heat, and as such both are likely to melt when subjected to certain levels of heat.”

Mr Irukera, however, said that spreads had varying heat resistance, depending on intended use and production process.

He said that as a result, it could not be necessarily unsafe that a spread does not melt under similar heat conditions as butter or margarine.

He said spreads were produced in part by adding emulsifiers which were additives used in stabilizing and binding processed foods.

“They are not inherently unsafe or uncommon. The specific emulsifying agent and amount used largely depends on many factors including shelf life, storage, handling and climatic conditions in order to prevent microbial activity.”

Irukera said that the manufacturer of the product had made a statement seeking to address public concern by differentiating its products and explaining the purposes of the two different products.

He also said that the organisation would continue to collaborate with the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, regarding applicable safety standards of butter and margarine.

He added that consumption of butter, margarine or spreads generally are not unsafe.

NAN