Coca-Cola apology as drinks canned
Provincial authorities have ordered Coca-Cola (Shanxi) to suspend production after confirming media reports that about 120,000 boxes of soft drinks produced at the Shanxi factory were tainted with chlorine.
The move comes after Coca-Cola said less than two weeks ago that the allegations, reported by mainland media, were false.
In a U-turn, the company was quoted by Xinhua yesterday as apologising for the contamination. And Su Yan , director of the Coca-Cola (Shanxi) Beverage Co, said the company had sealed more than 40,000 boxes of drinks for internal inspection.
According to an online notice posted by the provincial Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision on Saturday, an investigative panel was set up on April 19 to conduct an on-site inspection - which included checking records and interviewing Coca-Cola staff.
The bureau has now ordered production stopped until the branch rectifies the problem of chlorine contamination, but no information was given yesterday on the level of chlorine found in the latest investigation.
The decision came more than a week after the bureau had found soft drinks produced on February 4 contained traces of chlorine.
Earlier, media reports said some of the contaminated Fanta produced from February 4-8 had been sold across Shanxi.
The reports said a staff member at the Coca-Cola (Shanxi) Beverage Co revealed that a production flaw meant the factory had mistakenly mixed up lines carrying chlorinated water for disinfection with lines carrying drinking water used in the beverages.
Chlorine is often used to disinfect water, but consuming large amounts can substantially increase the risk of cancer.
The reports said the company received several complaints from consumers on February 8, which led to an internal investigation. A high percentage of chlorine was then discovered in the water used to make the drinks, triggering a production stoppage.
The worker said the company had sealed the tainted projects, but the seals were later removed and the products were sold in Shanxi.
But at that stage Coca-Cola denied the rumours.
It said all of its products had passed stringent quality tests and were in line with mainland safety standards.
The number of Coca-Cola bottling plants in China. The latest opened in Liaoning last month and represents a US$160 million investment