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Why is Voltic Ghana letting down its sachet water patrons?

BY: By Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

“Vetted and approved by the FDA” or “This advert is FDA approved” can be found on countless product adverts in Ghana.

They range from edibles, through medicines to hygiene products and beverages.

The above is the Food and Drugs Authority proof of endorsement, the must-have guarantee of a product’s ‘fit for purpose’ credentials.

But what do the words actually mean?

For example, does the FDA certification on a product and its advert include also taste or quality? What about the grammatical correctness of the advert text?

I’m posing the above questions particularly because of some personal observations.

They relate, first of all, to the poor quality of some of the Voltic “treated” water on sale; specifically, the sachet water being produced by other companies, under the franchise of Voltic (Gh) Limited.

Secondly, there is also an issue with a Vitamilk TV commercial.

Of course I don’t know about other consumers, but my opinion is that some of the sachet water on sale under the Voltic Ghana brand, doesn’t have the quality which has earned that company its high reputation.

Over the years, the quality of the Voltic still water has been such that the name ‘Voltic’ became the generic name for bottled water, also known as ‘pure water’. Although at present there are uncountable varieties available, for some people ‘Voltic’ represents all of them.

However, personally I find the sachet water branded “COOL Pac Treated drinking water, COOL, CLEAN AND REFRESHING, Product (sic!) in Ghana, under the Franchise of Voltic (GH) LTD …” inferior in taste to the bottled Voltic.

Why the difference?
Clearly, even the glaring mistake in the text on the sachet, “Product in Ghana”, is an indication that the franchise-holder is not upholding the Voltic standard.

Discerning customers who have grown accustomed to the good taste of the original Voltic water, may resent being served one of the franchise versions.

The value is definitely not the same – apologies to the popular slogan of the Bank of Ghana 2007 currency redenomination advert.

Indeed, one feels cheated, that one is being sold an unsatisfactory product, especially because poor tasting water doesn’t quench thirst! Nothing beats a refreshing drink of water!

Surely, by now, the substandard taste of the Voltic sachet water being produced with permission from the original company should have attracted the attention of Voltic itself, as well as the FDA?

So why are those producers still being allowed to pass their products off as original Voltic?

Moreover, why is Voltic Ghana letting down its consumers, people who patronise, or can only afford sachet water, by not ensuring that those using its name produce the same quality?

If Voltic is unaware of the poor taste of some of the sachet produced under its label, does it mean that once a franchise has been granted, Voltic has no interest in the quality of the franchise-holder’s product? No monitoring?

Besides, intriguingly, I seem to remember that Voltic sachet water was also available, but these days I have only come across the disappointing “Cool Pac” product.

That original Voltic sachet water now seems to be a distant memory!

And what about the Ghana Standards Board and the FDA? Both the GSB and the FDA certifications are on the sachet water of dubious taste.

Are those two supervisory organisations looking after the interest of sachet water patrons?

With the FDA, as indicated above, my other problem has to do with a Vitamilk advert that has been featuring on TV.

Some months ago, I noticed a conspicuous mistake in that Vitamilk advert, and, accordingly, on August 3, 2021, I sent the FDA the following WhatsApp message: “I have been thinking for a long time about drawing your attention to a problem with the

Vitamilk advert on TV. Part of it states “All item on sale” (emphasis added). Surely, this can’t be good English? Bad example for children!

“Yet it proclaims boldly ‘vetted & approved by the FDA’!!”

I got no acknowledgement.

However, earlier this week, I decided to resend the message and this time I got lucky.

To my surprise, almost immediately, a reply came thanking me for the “good feedback”, as well as an indication that the FDA would tackle the error.

But how can an official in a public service organisation ignore a message from anybody for six months?

Also, does it mean that nobody at the FDA has ever noticed that something was wrong with that sentence in that long-running advert?

The client, too, the Vitamilk company, didn’t notice?

Why does it seem that our institutions and companies don’t have follow-up systems in place?

Does it mean that the FDA doesn’t have the practice of checking the language of adverts it approves?

So then what is the meaning of the “vetted” and “approved” in the FDA authorisation if it doesn’t include the language?

Regarding the sachet water issues, of course, somebody may argue that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ – what may be beautiful to A may be not be beautiful to B.

Similarly, water that may taste good to A may taste unpleasant to B.

While some brands of the Cool Pac may taste substandard to me, others may find them agreeable.

That is why I have taken the trouble to sample other sachet water – and those others were satisfactory, even better than I expected!

So I’m hoping that Voltic Ghana will ensure that those producing sachet water under its licence will improve theirs to the standard which has made ‘Voltic’ a household name.

Otherwise, if there is no improvement, then what is likely to happen – if not already happening – is that consumers will be compelled to try other sachet brands and find, as I did, that their taste is acceptable and thus stay with that new brand.

Nevertheless, I believe that the FDA and the GSB, too, jointly have a role in this matter.


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