In Belgium, Things Go Even Worse With Coke

  • Share
  • Read Later
Americans traveling to Western Europe in the ’60s were advised not to drink the water; now they’re more likely to be warned off the Coke. In keeping with what looks to be an unhappy new epicurean tradition, the latest European food scare began in Belgium. Authorities there banned the sale of locally manufactured Coca-Cola products Monday, after more than 100 Belgians reportedly showed signs of poisoning after drinking them. Coke said Tuesday that the outbreak was the result of pesticide in one of its plants and inferior carbonation gas in another. Belgian consumers are already reeling under multiple assaults on their shopping baskets from the ban two weeks ago on the sale of poultry, eggs, beef, pork and dairy products after it was revealed that as much as half of the country’s animal feed was laced with the carcinogen dioxin.

After the most recent scare, the E.U. alerted its member countries to a possible health risk, and France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have all withdrawn drinks made in the company’s Belgian plants. The reported symptoms are nausea, headaches and stomach cramps, and a Belgian toxicology center found cases of haemolysis -- a disorder caused by the destruction of red blood cells -- among patients who had drunk Coca-Cola. The company's stock price dropped 2 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.