Coca Cola HBC withdraws some drinks in Croatia while illnesses investigated

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Coca Cola HBC said on Wednesday it was temporarily withdrawing batches of two soft drinks from sale in Croatia while the authorities there investigate cases of illness suspected to have been caused by the beverages.

Earlier Croatia’s state inspection office ordered the local arm of Coca Cola HBC, which distributes Coca-Cola products, to withdraw a batch of Coca-Cola Original Taste 500ml.

The company said in a statement it was also withdrawing a limited batch of Romerquelle Emotion Blueberry Pomegranate 330ml. It added that its internal analysis had not found any irregularities in either product but that it was withdrawing the batches until official investigations had concluded.

At the weekend, a young man in the Adriatic town of Rijeka suffered throat injuries after consuming a Romerquelle Emotion drink.

The individual is being treated in hospital, Health Minister Vili Beros said on Wednesday, later telling state television HRT that 13 other people across Croatia had also reported symptoms after consuming Coca Cola drinks.

He added that only the individual in Rijeka had serious injuries and most of the others had been released from hospital.

The state inspectorate said in a statement late Wednesday an analysis of a sample of Romerquelle Emotion had found that all of the values measured – such as acidity, metals and metalloids, pesticides and additives – were within allowed parameters “and could not cause symptoms suffered by affected people”.

It added that an analysis of the samples of the regular Coca-Cola had not been completed.

Coca Cola HBC said in its statement: “We are working closely with our customers throughout this process”.

“We continue to support the authorities’ investigation and are taking clear actions to protect our consumers.”

(Reporting by Antonio Bronic and Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Potter)