Coca Cola Expands Recall to Diet Sprite, Kinley and Cans

The recall of Coca Cola Israel products that began last week has been extended to include additional products. The Central Bottling Company is now asking the public not to consume Diet Sprite, Kinley Soda in glass bottles and canned Coca Cola of a specific expiry date.

Last week the Central Bottling Company recalled Coca Cola and Diet Coke products in one-liter and half-liter bottles marked with expiry dates of March 18, March 19 and March 20, 2010. The firm has now announced that it is also collecting one-and-a-half-liter bottles of Coca Cola and Diet Coke with an expiry date of March 23, which it asks consumers not to drink.

Company representatives will move in to remove the products from store shelves today.

Meanwhile, despite the recall triggered by a sulfurous odor and odd taste to the affected products, if anything sales have increased, report retailers.

Consumers seem to have remained largely indifferent to the surprise recall of Coca Cola beverage bottles last week. Sales of the brand remained unaffected, the larger grocery chains report. In fact, Rami Levy of the Hashikma supermarkets chain reported that Coca Cola sales had even slightly increased by 2% over the past week sales, compared to the previous week.

"Coca Cola consumers are addicted, they're willing to pay more for Coca Cola than for other beverages, so the reports had no affect on sales," Levy said.

Last Monday the Central Bottling Company's own employees swooped in to remove all bottles with an expiry date of March 18-19, 2010 from grocery store shelves throughout Israel - on occasion without even notifying the stores themselves of the recall. The beverage company initially offered no explanation of the problem, until word of the recall reached the press.

After the move became public the company explained that the problem had been caused by a production malfunction by the firm's carbon dioxide supplier, Makhteshim Agan Industries. The company's laboratory tests had revealed that some bottles in the affected series contained small traces of benzene and sulfur. Although Coca Cola assures that the problem does not present a health hazard, it has nevertheless asked the public not to consume the affected series.

The recall has resulted in two applications for class action suits against the Central Bottling Company, one for a total of NIS 105 million and the second for NIS 24.5 million, both based on the fact that the company had marketed beverages containing poisonous substances, including benzene and sulfur, and bottled beverages with an unpleasant odor, citing "mental anguish, negligence and failure to reveal an expected risk to consumers."

Coca Cola Israel issued the following statement: "Pursuant to the company's announcements in recent days concerning quality issues caused by the manufacturer of carbon dioxide, the defective gas was found to have been used in our production plant to manufacture products between 10 P.M. on November 17, 2009 and 5:30 P.M. on November 23. Most of the products manufactured on these dates were stopped at the factory gates."

The company also stated that "since the malfunction was discovered, the company has been working to recall the products that nevertheless did reach the market. Very small quantities, if any, still remain on the market."

The firm also included a list of products and their expiry dates that consumers are asked not to imbibe.