By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Caribbean Bottling Company has denied the country’s health was put at “risk” following allegations concerning the taste of “some cleaning product” in a can of Schweppes Ginger Ale.
As a result of a woman’s claim that the company displayed “negligence and blatant disregard for the health of the Bahamian populace,” CBC said stocks have been put on hold, the offending drinks have been replaced, and an investigation is being conducted.
The company also stressed the odd taste “does not pose any danger or health risk” to consumers.
In a letter sent to the press, Dione Bowe said she and three of her colleagues had purchased the can of soda from a vending machine at her office.
“To my horror and fright after one sip I tasted and smelled a lot of bleach or some cleaning agent,” she said. “I immediately contacted the Caribbean Bottling Company.”
Representatives there told her the company “was aware of the problem” as was the Department of Environmental Health, and both groups were “working to resolve” the matter.
“Dumbfounded,” Mrs Bowe continued, she contacted Environmental Health who “after a few minutes of investigation” confirmed CBC’s explanation.
“Now, yes we live in a third world country. But, if there was a risk to the public’s health should there not be a public announcement made?” Mrs Bowe asked.
“In fact, if common sense and decency prevailed should the company not close its operational doors until the matter has actually been resolved?
“What horrifies me the most is that children are also consumers of sodas. What an adult may detect, a child may not and consume the entire poison, that our government knows is on the shelves and keeps it there.”
In response to Mrs Bowe’s claims, CBC released a statement explaining the company is “conducting an investigation” regarding the taste of the product.
“Since we became aware of this situation, we immediately placed on hold remaining stocks in our warehouse and replaced product that had been sold in the marketplace as well as product shipped to our out islands,” the statement said.
“At the same time, we immediately started an internal investigation to find the root cause and discovered that the off taste was only present in a very small percentage of what was produced during a specified period. Notwithstanding this, we have been retrieving and replacing all of the product in question.”
Preliminary results indicate that the taste “does not pose any danger or health risk to consumers,” CBC continued, and they have temporarily discontinued production of Schweppes Ginger Ale 12oz cans until final results are in.
“Aggressive efforts are underway to complete the investigation as quickly as possible to minimize the inconvenience to customers and consumers alike,” the company said.
“This off taste does not affect any of the other 60 plus products produced by Caribbean Bottling Co, who for decades has taken great pride in producing quality products for the Bahamian market.”
On Monday, CBC president and chief executive, Walter Wells told Tribune Business it was the first quality control issue that Caribbean Bottling had experienced.
“It’s an internal problem that affected two batches of Schweppes Ginger Ale produced by us, where some cans were affected and some not,” he said. “There were pockets in the entire production run that we can’t explain.”
Mr Wells added: “We don’t take this thing lightly. We pride ourselves in it, have been doing it for decades, and have been responsible in everything we do.”