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Coca-Cola fails to settle ‘dirty’ soda case out of court

 

Coca-Cola has failed to reach an out-of-court settlement with 58 people who claim to have fallen ill after taking contaminated soda, setting stage for the High Court to issue a verdict on the suit.

The long-running legal tussle will be delivered by High Court Judge Kiarie Waweru after efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement flopped.

Initially, the applicants had demanded to be paid Sh100,000 and filed the matter in court after rejecting a proposed compensation of Sh45,000 each.

While testifying in court on Wednesday, Coca-Cola’s Kisumu franchise (Equator Bottlers Limited) quality technologist Esther Achoki defended the company against blame that the claimants fell ill after consuming contaminated sodas.

The residents accuse the soft drinks firm of selling them substandard soda that led to vomiting among other complications. The sodas were allegedly sold between October 2013 and January 2014.

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“We usually conduct quality tests at various stages of production which is verified by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and send to our sister company in South Africa for confirmation,” Ms Achoki said.

But the petitioners through their lawyer Joseph Juma told the court that Coca-Cola's franchise in Kisumu has been facing sanitation challenges.

“The defendants can confirm that one of their factories based in Kisumu was shut down by public health officials over sanitary issues,” he said.

Kebs carried out investigations and charged the beverage manufacturer of offering for sale carbonated soft drinks found not to comply with the standard EAS 29:2000 East African Standard Specification for Carbonated Soft Drinks.

After pleading guilty to the charge, Equator Bottlers CEO Enrique Huguet was asked to pay a fine of Sh100, 000 in default of six months.

“The plaintiff should file and serve the court within 30 days and defendants will have the same period to respond to enable me give a ruling date on November 23,” Justice Waweru.

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