According to a November 26 notice in the government’s official gazette, a Sri Lankan court suspended the licence of Pure Beverages for not following labelling regulations.
It said a suspension order had been issued by Kebbethigollawa magistrates after the company was found distributing bottles for sale without batch, production or expiry details, which are each required by local law.
Under the court ruling, Pure Beverages cannot now engage in production, storing, distributing and sale of Coke in the country.
However, Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka yesterday countered the reports, saying its operations will continue and have not in fact been suspended as this was a historic case that is still under review.
“[We] would like to inform that there is no impediment in law for the company to continue with its production, distribution, and sales," the firm said in a statement.
Coca-Cola said the case dates back two years, and there is still an appeal pending at a higher court.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that the case being referred to in media reports, was originally called in January 2011. A public health Inspector filed a complaint in the Kebithigollewa Magistrate’s court regarding a 500ml Coca-Cola PET bottle, which allegedly did not have the date code printed on it,” the statement continued.
“Subsequent to the Magistrate’s conviction order, Coca-Cola Sri Lanka filed an appeal in June 2012 in the Provincial High Court of Anuradhapura, which stayed the operation of the magistrate’s order.”
The magistrate subsequently reissued its order of sentencing to the High Court last month, after which the company once again lodged an appeal, which has since been stayed by the High Court, Coca-Cola alleges.
There has not yet been any official response to Coca-Cola’s claims.