The Coca-Cola Company has confirmed that it has filed a police report in China targeting recent internet hoax rumors that its orange juice contains an illegal fungicide, and will pursue legal redress.
Coca-Cola Company media relations director Petro Kacur told BeverageDaily.com last night that a report carried by Chinese state news agency Xinhua on Tuesday was accurate.
“We take the move not only to safeguard the reputation of our brand, but also to help create a fair and healthy business environment, an environment where virtue is rewarded and vice punished,” Bai Changbo, vice president of Coca-Cola Greater China was quoted as saying.
Xinhua said reports had circulated online in recent days stating that Coca-Cola China had admitted in a high-profile television program that its orange juice products contain the fungicide Carbendazim.
‘Absolutely no safety issue’
Additionally, the reports claimed that the program warned viewers not to consume Coca-Cola orange juice products (the firm’s principal brand in China is Minute Maid) due to the alleged carbendazim presence.
But both Coca-Cola China and the producers of the program, Topics in Focus, denied that to the agency that such a program had ever been made, while Xinhua said it could not find any such episode itself.
Kacur told this publication last night:“I want to make sure you understand that these false rumors stem from the US finding of carbendazim in Brazilian orange juice shipments from last year.
“And that there is no carbendazim in juice in China. The orange juice in China is in full compliance with the national standards and there is absolutely no safety issue,” he added.
Hit headlines in US
Carbendazim, used by orange growers in some nations to combat black spot mold, is classified as an unlawful pesticide residue in orange juice in the US, and imports of orange juice or concentrate found to contain measurable levels (10ppb is the current detection threshold) are refused entry.
The fungicide hit the headlines when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began sampling orange juice shipments (most come from Brazil) in January 2012, after a December 2011 tip-off from Minute Maid producer Coca-Cola about carbendazim levels in some orange juice products.
Accordingly, the FDA implemented mandatory sampling of all shipments of imported orange juice and orange juice concentrate for the fungicide, before returning to a surveillance approach on April 26 2012.