Coke suspends production at Chinese plant
BEIJING, May 2 – A Coca-Cola Co bottling plant in China has suspended production after chlorine was found in its products, although the level was low and the drinks did not pose a safety problem, a company spokeswoman said today.
The plant in Shanxi province suspended all production on Monday to look into the issue, spokeswoman Joanna Price said.
“We’re working with the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) with a view to getting the plant reopened,” Price said.
The problem dated back to early February, when modifications were made to the plant’s water pipelines as part of its water conservation efforts, according to a statement from Coca-Cola Shanxi Beverage Co.
“As a result of an operational error, water used for rinsing beverage packages entered into the water for finished products,” the statement said.
“The water used for rinsing contains trace levels of residual chlorine that are lower than the national standards for drinking water, and the final beverage was safe to consume,” it said.
The plant’s quality control discovered the problem at the time and addressed the issue, said the statement, which also apologised “for this operating error.”
The level of chlorine was below World Health Organisation tolerances and China’s national standard for purified drinking water, Price said. She couldn’t say when the plant would resume production.
Chinese and foreign food and drink manufacturers and retailers in China are frequently called to task over quality issues ranging from lower-quality ingredients than advertised to toxic ingredients that have led to deaths.
In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 fell ill from powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial chemical added to low quality or diluted milk to fool inspectors checking for protein levels. – Reuters