Coca-Cola talks down health risk

August 08, 2011 | 08:39
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Coca-Cola Vietnam has moved to reassure consumers that its products are not tainted by a scandal to have hit other regional markets.

Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate and benzoic acid, which are not banned by the Ministry of Health (MoH) from food products in Vietnam, and hexadienic acid, which is banned in Vietnam, were recently found by Taiwanese authorities in a batch of Coca-Cola Zero imported into Taiwan from Coca-Cola Beverages (Shanghai).

Test results of Taiwan’s Health Department showed that each kilogramme of syrup in the batch tested contained 2,062 milligrammes of the methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, which is banned from being used in food and drinks in Taiwan, as they were harmful to human health, according to China Daily newspaper.

Nguyen Khoa My, public relations head of Coca-Cola Southeast Asia, told VIR: “We are not selling the Coke Zero product in Vietnam. We affirm that no products made by Coca-Cola Vietnam are mixed with these additives.”

Coke Zero can also be found in many other countries like China, Cambodia, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

In Vietnam, the firm has Coke Light, Fanta, Sprite, Crush, Joy, Samurai and Splash.

Vietnam Food Administration head Nguyen Cong Khan said the Coke Zero product had never been imported into Vietnam.

“After getting the information from Coca-Cola Taiwan, we immediately contacted them. They asked us to have our Coke Light product tested. The MoH asked us to do so. After being tested at the Vietnam Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality’s Quality Assurance and Testing Centre 3, the samples had no such additives,” My said.

However, My said methyl p-hydroxybenzoate was also used in Hong Kong and China for products like Coke Zero.

“The case in Taiwan has not influenced Coca-Cola Vietnam. In any country in the world, we are always committed to ensure our products’ quality and consumers’ safety,” My said.

But the image of Coca-Cola Vietnam, the local manufacturer of icon US beverage Coca-Cola, was shaken following the firm’s two scandals in 2006 and 2007.

In March 2007, the firm had to withdraw hundreds of thousands of 1.5 litre Fanta bottles in the country’s northern market, because the product was found to use materials not allowed to be used by Vietnamese authorities. In July, 2006, inspectors at the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health launched inspections of Coca-Cola Vietnam’s warehouses and found a large volume of flavourings that had expired, including 13 additives totalling more than 12.9 tonnes. The firm was then told to destroy all the out-of-date materials.

By Thanh Dat

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