Blog: Chris Brook-CarterWater disaster

Chris Brook-Carter | 22 March 2004

Coca-Cola should be congratulated in the UK for its handling of the recall of around 500,000 bottles of its water brand Dasani, after it was discovered that some samples contained levels of bromate that exceeded legal standards.

The response has been swift and professional, with the company reassuring the public there is no health risk while, at the same time, being seen to take decisive action.

However, the UK Dasani recall comes at a disastrous time for Coca-Cola, which has already suffered terrible press in the UK over the fact the product is "merely" purified tap water and the issue raises two important questions.

The first is how this "contamination" was ever allowed to happen in the first place. Surely a company of Coke’s experience and expertise should have known the legal limits for bromate in the UK, even though they are more stringent than other EU countries. And if they did know, how did the levels exceed that maximum?

Secondly, industry watchers are wondering if this is now the end of the road for Dasani in the UK. All bottles have been recalled and the company's competitors, such as Nestle and Danone, will surely use this as an opportunity to hammer home the mineral water versus tap water message.

"This could damage Coke's ability to relaunch Dasani in the UK as Nestle and other players will likely take the opportunity to remind consumers that they are selling spring water vs. the purified 'tap' water Coke is selling..." Morgan Stanley's Bill Pecoriello said in a research note on Friday.

Interestingly, in interviews on Friday, Coke representatives would not confirm or deny that they would now pull the brand from the market.


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