Coca-Cola Products Deemed Safe After Poisoning Scare In Croatia

Last weekend, a person in Croatia was hospitalized with severe esophagus injuries after being served a Coca-Cola product in a Rijeka cafe. The drink in question was Romerquelle Emotion Blueberry Pomegranate, a Coca-Cola-owned brand of flavored mineral water, in a glass bottle. Around the same time, 44 other consumers were examined in Croatia hospitals exhibiting mild throat injuries, reports Food Safety News. What caused it? Croatian authorities aren't sure yet — but they don't think it's Coca-Cola's fault.

Testing suggests most of the cases may not have been poisonings at all or had no connection to the drinks consumed. Minister of Health Vili Beroš postulates that the single severe throat injury was caused by ingesting a highly alkaline detergent or degreaser and that the incident is isolated. Foul play has not been publicly ruled out as of this writing. On Thursday, the minister reported that Coca-Cola products weren't tainted on a larger scale. 

Even so, the soda giant covered its bases with perhaps overly cautious measures. To be safe, Coca-Cola temporarily removed two products (Coca-Cola Original 0.5-liter in a plastic bottle and Romerquelle Emotion Blueberry Pomegranate 0.33-liter) from shelves across the Croatian market. Investigations are ongoing to determine the root cause of the issue. But, no traces of contamination were found in any of the other bottles. All samples but one have come up clear in subsequent testing. Poisoning was ruled out in all but one of the 45 suspected cases, and Coca-Cola products were deemed safe after the recall.

Consumers can relax, but Coca-Cola is still on the case

The incident coincides with another recent health issue involving Coca-Cola, in which a consumer in Zagreb, Croatia, became ill after drinking a plastic bottled soda from a vending machine on a college campus. Whether or not the two incidents are related remains to be seen, but so far, investigators don't seem to think it's likely. This prompted inspectors to test Coca-Cola Original and Zero samples obtained from a store and a vending machine. They found no issues with any of the drinks.

In the meantime, Coca-Cola HBC Hrvatska released a statement on November 9 pledging full transparency and cooperation with authorities to determine the cause of the issues. "We welcome the clarity that the test results will bring for our consumers and customers after the uncertainty of the last few days," stated the company. "We value the longstanding relationships we have with our consumers and customers, and sincerely thank them for their support during this very challenging time."

The Coca-Cola poisoning scare follows recent recalls by other food manufacturing giants Frito-Lay and Tyson.