Nestle loses appeal over insect in drink

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 August, 1999, 12:00am

A dairy manufacturer did not take reasonable precautions to avoid the presence of an insect wing in a health drink, a court ruled yesterday.

On appeal in the Court of First Instance, Nestle Dairy Farm failed to clear its name for selling a bottle of Chamyto 'not of substance demanded by the purchaser'.

San Po Kong Court convicted and fined Nestle $2,000 on March 15.

Yesterday, Timon Shum Kei-leong, for Nestle, argued that 'many and almost all harmful bacteria cannot survive' in the drink which carried an acidity rating of 3.6pH.

'If that was true,' said Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, rejecting his argument, 'there would be no problem to have a cockroach among chicken fried in hot oil . . . it would even be crisp.' The 2cm-long insect wing was found at the bottom of a bottle of Chamyto after a boy had emptied the drink on August 15 last year.

It was the first complaint against the drink, of which more than 10 million bottles had been manufactured, Mr Shum said.

He claimed that the magistrate, Tam Hop-hon, had not considered whether the presence of the wing was an unavoidable consequence of the process.

Had it been, Nestle would have a defence under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance.

Mr Justice Yeung dismissed the argument, ruling that Nestle had not adopted reasonable precautions, such as taking the necessary steps to inspect the produce to avoid such consequences.