Coca-Cola Kenya has dismissed a report by a US consumer watchdog that wants the beverage company to reduce the levels of a chemical in its flagship drink on claims that it causes cancer.
Speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi on Friday, Coca-Cola’s technical director for central, East and West Africa Deepak Nilangekar said the report by the Centre for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) was merely targeting the firm because of its position as a market leader for soft beverages in the country.
The chemical in question according to the advocacy group is known as 4-MEI.
“It is because we are a big brand and that is why we think we are being targeted,” said Mr Nilangekar.
Similar comments were expressed by the company’s general manager for the East Africa region, Mr Peter Njonjo.
“There is an element of untruthfulness and malice in the report,” said Mr Njonjo.
The CSPI study which highlights findings of a study carried out in nine countries, shows that levels of 4-MEI in Coca Cola products sold in the Kenyan market rank the second highest.
According to the report, while 35 millilitres of the drink contain 4 micrograms of the chemical, the same quantity in the Kenyan market contains 177 micrograms.
In March this year, Coca-Cola and rival company Pepsi, came under the spotlight in the US market over the levels of the chemical in their products after concerns emerged that the 4-MEI chemical triggered cancer in humans.
In a reaction to authorities demand that the company attaches labels to its product warning consumers of the danger of cancer which it reckoned would have negative consequences on its market performance, Coca-Cola decided to alter the manufacturing process of caramel, a component that is responsible for the brown colouring of the Coca-Cola drink at whose manufacture process 4-MEI chemical is said to be naturally occurring so as to reduce the levels of the chemical in the drink. (Nation)
Cofek response will come after consultations with the Kenya Bureau of Standards and other stakeholders are concluded. Given the sensitivity of the matter and owing to the fact that we are yet to receive the full report from our counnterparts at CSPI, and even though we have been working on this matter, we believe that the consultations from various stakeholders will see our informed response.