By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The management of Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has announced opening an inquiry into the controversy surrounding safety of Blue Band ‘Spread for Bread’ produced by Unilever Nigeria Plc.
There have been reactions to a video posted on social media showing how the Blue Band ‘Spread for Bread’ reacts under certain heat conditions.
The video gave the impression that the product was unsafe for human consumption because the butter seems not to melt under heat as it should do.
Reacting to this, the CPC, in a statement issued on Sunday, April 1, 2018 by its Director General, Mr Babatunde lrukera, stated that it would look into the matter and give appropriate verdict on the issue.
Commenting on concerns raised about the product not melting or dissolving when subjected to high temperature in boiling water, the council said “available scientific information confirms that, though butter, margarine, and spread appear analogous, and share similar components, characteristics and uses, they are different products available to consumers.”
It admitted that “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.”
“Spreads however, have varying heat resistance, depending on intended use, and production process.
“As a result, it is not necessarily unsafe that a spread does not melt under similar heat conditions as butter, or margarine,” the council averred.
The CPC explained that, “Spreads are produced in part by adding emulsifiers which are 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,” it explained further.
According to the DG of the council, “The manufacturer of this product has made a statement seeking to address public concern by differentiating its products and explaining the purposes of the two different products.”
He said, “Regardless, the council has opened an inquiry to determine product safety, and clarify some aspects of the manufacturer’s statements.”
Mr lrukera emphasised that, “The purpose of the inquiry is to ensure their products, differentiated or otherwise, are safe and subjected to proper processes, and ‘in- trade’ handling consistent with the different properties and characteristics of each product.”
He assured members of the public that the CPC will continue to collaborate with NAFDAC and SON regarding applicable safety standards.”
However, he advised that “consumption of butter, margarine or spreads generally are not unsafe.”
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