Coca-Cola faces mercury poisoning cases in China

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags People's republic of china

Coca-Cola brand Sprite has been caught up in a Chinese investigation into two cases of alleged mercury poisoning.

In two separate incidents Chinese media reported that two people appear to have suffered mercury poisoning after drinking cans of Sprite.

Coca-Cola is assisting Chinese police with its investigation into the poisoning cases that both took place in Beijing – the first one in November last year and the second just two weeks ago.

Likely cause

In a statement, Coca-Cola has ruled out the possibility that mercury contamination could have occurred at its Beijing plant. The soft drinks giant said the Sprite drinks may have been maliciously contaminated after the canning process.

“In these isolated incidents, it could be said that our products have been deliberately contaminated during its circulation channels,”​ said Coca-Cola in a statement quoted in China Daily.

Chinese media reports into the poisoning cases give an indication of the severity of the contamination.

Poisoning cases

In the first reported case back in November a man is alleged to have vomited several beads of mercury after drinking Sprite purchased in a restaurant in Beijing. In the second case on January 17, parents of a 13-year-old boy took their son to hospital claiming that he had fallen ill after drinking a can of Sprite bought at a Beijing supermarket.

China Daily quoted the father of the boy saying that he had had checked inside the Sprite can and found something the size of a soybean that looked like mercury.

Coca-Cola has tested samples from its production at the time of the poisoning incidents and found no evidence of mercury. But the company has agreed to independent testing and has promised to cooperate fully with the Chinese police investigation to determine the cause of the contamination as promptly as possible.

China has become and important and fast growing market for Coca-Cola. Only last October the company opened a RMB 600m ($88m) bottling plant in the central industrial hub of Wuhan.

Related topics Regulation & safety Carlsberg

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