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Belgium decides partial ban on Coca-Cola sales

Reuters Story - June 12, 1999 07:49

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BRUSSELS, June 12 (Reuters) - U.S. drinks giant Coca-Cola Co told Belgian retailers on Saturday to clear more batches of soft drinks from their shelves after the government ordered a ban because children had become ill.

The Belgium government, already battling a huge food scare sparked by Dioxin contamination in animal feed, decided on Friday night to ban sales of cans and 20-centilitre bottles of Coca Cola and other drinks after meeting Coca-Cola executives.

The U.S. company and the Belgian authorities are still investigating why several dozen schoolchildren in the north of the country have had to be taken to the hospital since Tuesday.

Most of the children, who complained of headaches, nausea and shivering, have since returned home but the cause of the illness remains unclear.

"Neither the Belgian food inspection services nor Coca-Cola know the origin of the problem," Belgian Health Minister Luc Van Den Bossche said on Friday.

Maureen O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Belgium said: "The measures are relatively draconian but what is important is that consumers are reassured by the joint decision taken by Coca-Cola and the Belgian government."

Coca-Cola's Belgian unit, which had already recalled 2.5 million bottles of Coke, told retailers they must withdraw all cans of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola light, Fanta and Sprite bearing production codes DU, DV or DW printed on the base of the cans.

The ban also covers 20-cl glass bottles of the same brands, except Sprite, with production code G or W visible on caps.

The company said in its statement that other drinks and those in different packaging could remain on sale. They include Coca-Cola in plastic bottles as well as Aquarius and Minute Maid. The banned products came from plants in the northern Belgium towns of Ghent and Wilrijk as well as Dunkerque in France

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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