Man dies after drinking Coca-Cola product
Beijing - A man died and his mother went into a coma after consuming a product made by US giant Coca-Cola, prompting a city in northeast China to recall the drink, government and state media said on Wednesday.
Food scandals occur regularly in China, with recent cases involving recycled cooking oil, contaminated eggs and carcinogenic mushrooms.
Identified only by his surname Chu, the man died after drinking a bottle of strawberry flavoured milk sold under the brand name "Guoli Naiyou" and made by the Coca-Cola subsidiary Minute Maid, the China News Service reported.
Chu died on Monday evening after ingesting the drink in Changchun city, in Jilin province, the report said. His mother was fighting for her life.
"Following clinical diagnosis, poisoning from organic phosphorous is suspected," the report said. "Police investigations confirmed that a hyper-toxic pesticide was found in the drink."
‘Nothing unusual found’
A Changchun city official surnamed Li confirmed the incident when contacted by AFP, but refused to comment on the details or divulge whether foul play was suspected.
"Our company takes the recent incident in Changchun of Jilin province very seriously," Joanna Price, Coca-Cola's China-based spokesperson, told AFP in an e-mail.
"After we were notified of this incident, we carried out comprehensive internal reviews of the retention samples of the same production batches and have not found anything unusual.
"All the products are safe and within standards."
According to the China News Service, the city's commercial and food safety departments have launched an investigation and ordered the recall of the suspect product.
Local stores began removing the drink from their shelves on Wednesday, it said.
Tougher penalties wanted
China's food industry remains plagued by safety scandals despite sporadic government crackdowns.
On Saturday, state press said authorities had recently convicted 113 people, including 17 government employees, over a chemical-tainted pork scandal.
The prime suspect received a death sentence with two years' reprieve for running a workshop producing the carcinogenic chemical clenbuterol, which is added to pig feed to produce leaner pork, the China Daily said.
In September last year authorities including China's top court and the public security ministry called for tougher penalties including the death sentence in serious food safety cases.