The Coca-Cola Company is under fresh attack for its business ethics. A report published by Human Rights Watch yesterday an reported in a number of newspapers has said that the company is buying sugar from a mill in El Salvador that is supplied by plantations exploiting child labour.

The report identified four plantations supplying the mill that illegally employs children to use dangerous tools to harvest sugar cane.

But the Sydney Morning Herald quoted a statement from Coca-Cola saying investigations cleared its "direct suppliers" - of violating child labour laws.

"Our review has revealed that none of the four co-operatives identified ... supplied any products directly to the Coca-Cola Company, and that neither the company nor the [Salvadorean] bottler have any commercial contracts with these farm co-operatives."