Coca-Cola Co. has responded to claims that it is exploiting child labour in El Salvador. Following a report from the non-profit group Human Rights Watch (HRW) last month, which claimed that the company is buying sugar produced by underage workers, a company spokeswoman has outlined Coke's position on the matter.

"The Coca-Cola Company firmly opposes the use of child labour and has incorporated that requirement into our supplier-guiding-principles program," Lori George Billingsley told Dow Jones Newswires this week. "We have acted quickly to review the policies and practices of our refined-sugar supplier in El Salvador."

Coke uses sugar from the nation's largest sugar factory, Izalco, in bottled drinks sold in El Salvador.

"Underage labour isn't used in either the sugar refinery or the mill supplying the refinery that sells to Coca-Cola in El Salvador," Billingsley told Dow Jones.

In June, HRW said that child labour is used on four family-owned farm cooperatives that supply the mill, which in turn may supply the refinery.

"Our review revealed that none of the four farm cooperatives identified by HRW supplied any products directly to Coca-Cola, and that neither the company nor the Salvadoran bottler have any commercial contracts with these farm cooperatives," Billingsley said.