Probe clears Coke yogurt drink batch of toxins

Updated: Dec 06, 2011, 09:20 AM IST

Beijing: A Chinese agency said it had not found toxic pesticides in samples from a production batch of Coca Cola-made yogurt drinks, an official news agency reported, narrowing suspicions the drink may have caused the death of a child who consumed yogurt from the same batch.

The finding appears to cut the chances of a broader recall of Coke products in northeastern China region.

An 11-year-old boy died in Changchun city in Jilin province after he drank the strawberry-flavored Pulpy Milky yogurt drink on November 28, and his mother was severely ill after consuming the same drink.

Another mother and her daughter became ill after drinking another bottle of the same drink in Jilin a few days earlier, but recovered, Coke spokeswoman Joanna Price said earlier.

Chinese media cited local authorities as saying the beverages were tainted by pesticide but they did not say when or how the pesticide might have been introduced into the drink.

Tests carried out by the China National Centre for Food Quality Supervision and Testing "showed no existence of Methomyl or thiodicarb, two toxic pesticides, on the samples of the same batch of the strawberry-flavored milk drinks taken by the victim," the Xinhua news agency reported late on Monday.

Checks of the production process also found they were safe, the report also said, citing a statement from Coca-Cola`s Jilin unit.

The company and officials earlier agreed the yogurt drink should be removed from shelves from stores in Jilin province while the investigation was under way. Coke spokeswoman Price said the company was cooperating with local authorities.

Food scandals are common in China, where crackdowns have failed to stamp out poisonings and toxin outbreaks that have shaken consumer confidence.

Foreign companies are watched closely as they are generally perceived to hold stricter standards. When western companies are accused of transgressions, it becomes big news in China.

The Xinhua report said cases in 2009 and 2010 of a man and a teenager being poisoned by mercury in Sprite, a Coke-produced softdrink, were traced to intentional poisonings, not quality problems.

Bureau Report