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Coca-Cola rejects finding that drink caused death

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New Zealand News | Tuesday February 12 2013 16:25

Coca-Cola rejects finding that drink caused death

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The Coroner has ruled the death of an Invercargill woman was most likely a result of excessive consumption of Coca-Cola.

Natasha Harris died in February 2010.

The mother of eight was known to drink between six and ten litres of the caffeinated soft drink a day.

Despite her addiction, the family of Natasha Harris didn't consider Coke was harmful.

Her teeth were rotten, at least one of her children was born without tooth enamel, and she had an enlarged fatty liver due to excessive sugar consumption.

Coroner David Crerar ruled the 31-year-old died of cardiac arrhythmia, most likely as a result of her Coke-drinking habits.

He has suggested clearer warning on labels about the dangers of excessive sugar and caffeine in carbonated beverages, an idea supported by an addiction expert.

National Addiction Centre Director Doug Sellman gave expert advice at the inquest.

He says there are a number of things in Coca-Cola which can spark habitual compulsive behaviours among consumers.

"I think it's a very cleverly engineered product which combines sugar, caffeine, the effervescence, the fizz to it, and the other sort of flavourings and taste to the whole experience of taking Coke."

Doug Sellman says there needs to be better retail signalling so it's clear to consumers what they're buying.

But Coca-Cola is rejecting findings that the death was most likely due to excessive consumption.

Coca-Cola Oceania says the Coroner's finding is contrary to the evidence which showed the experts could not completely agree on the most likely cause.

The company says it is disappointed the Coroner chose to focus on the excessive consumption of Coke.

Photo: Getty Images

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