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US: PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co defend soft drinks over religious concerns

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PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Co have defended their soft drink products after an Islamic scholar said he would issue a fatwa on whether they were acceptable for Muslims to drink.

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Sheikh Mohammed Al-Nujaimi, a member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia, said he would meet colleagues next year to decide if a report that some soft drinks contained traces of alcohol meant Muslims could not drink them. “We are consulting with doctors, chemist and other experts on this topic,” Al-Nujaimi told Arab News today (3 July).

“We will be issuing a final fatwa about this by the beginning of next year when the academy meets.”

A fatwa is an Islamic religious opinion issued by a scholarly body and is not necessarily binding.

But PepsiCo and Coca-Cola said their products meet acceptable standards for non-alcoholic beverages.

“Pepsi-Cola products are of the highest quality and meet all local government and regulatory standards for non-alcoholic beverages,” PepsiCo told just-drinks.

Coca-Cola said its flagship brand is recognised as a non-alcoholic beverage and alcohol is not added as an ingredient.

“Trace levels of alcohol can occur naturally in many foods and beverages," the company said. "Governments and religious organisations have recognised that such minute levels are considered acceptable in non-alcoholic foods and beverages.”

“Our products are safe and meet the safety requirements, laws and practices in every country where our brands are sold.”

Earlier this week, French magazine 60 Million Consumers reported that drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain trace amounts of alcohol. The magazine said the alcohol levels are equal to 0.001% abv.


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