Coca-Cola Says Chinese Child’s Death Wasn’t Caused by Beverage

Coca-Cola Co. (KO), the world’s largest soft-drink maker, said tests showed that a child’s death after drinking one of its beverages in Changchun, China, wasn’t caused by the product.

“Tests and reviews indicate our products are safe and within standards, and reaffirm the incident is not related to the quality of our products,” the Atlanta-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. “We are 100 percent confident that our products are safe and in good quality.”

Coca-Cola carried out internal reviews of production and warehousing processes, checked retention samples of production batches and had tests conducted by the China National Center for Food Quality Supervision and Testing, according to the statement. China pledged to intensify food protection after baby formula tainted with the chemical melamine killed at least six infants and sickened about 300,000 in 2008.

Minute Maid strawberry-flavored pulpy milk beverages were temporarily removed from store shelves last week in China’s Jilin province after a child died and an adult became ill after drinking the Coca-Cola product.

The drink was found safe in government tests of samples, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the national food quality center. The beverage was made by Coca-Cola’s subsidiary in Jilin province, according to Xinhua.

China News Service said last month that the Minute Maid drinks in question contained pesticide, citing police. At least five calls to Changchun police’s news office today went unanswered.

Coca-Cola has been in touch with the families affected by the child’s death, Joanna Price, the company’s Shanghai-based spokeswoman, said today by phone. She declined to provide more information as the investigation is ongoing.

Minute Maid is one of Coca-Cola’s best-selling brands in China, according to researcher Euromonitor International.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michael Wei in Shanghai at mwei13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Wong at swong139@bloomberg.net

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