An industry group in New Zealand has voiced its opposition to a coroner's call for health warning labels on soft drinks after a woman's addiction to Coca-Cola was linked to her death.

Coroner David Crerar concluded yesterday (12 February) that 31 year-old New Zealander Natasha Harris' habit of drinking eight to ten litres of Coca-Cola a day was probably a "substantial factor" in her death from a heart attack in 2010. Crerar said soft-drink producers should consider including caffeine levels on labels and warnings against excessive consumption, it was reported.

But, New Zealand's Food & Grocery Council's CEO Katherine Rich said today: "No regulatory system can legislate for extreme cases.

"There isn't a labelling regime in the world that could have prevented such a tragic case, where a person consumed the equivalent of up to 30 cans of soft drink a day, the sheer volume of which crowded out the possibility of receiving vital nutrients from other food sources."

Rich added: "Nutrition experts have made it clear that even the consumption of the same volume of water or any other food would have been just as damaging in the long term."

In a statement on the case, the Coca-Cola Co echoed the comments. “We concur with the information shared by the coroner's office that the grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients, and the failure to seek appropriate medical intervention when needed, can be dramatically symptomatic,” it said.

“The foundation of good nutrition is balance, variety and moderation.”

The group said its "thoughts and sympathies" are with Harris' partner Chris Hodgkinson and his family. 

In the US, caffeine levels in energy drinks remain under the spotlight after senators last month wrote to 14 producers asking for information on ingredients and company investigations into the health risks of their products.