Venezuela Orders End to Coca-Cola Zero Production

On
Wednesday the Venezuelan Ministry for Health ordered the Coca-Cola Company to
remove its product Coca-Cola Zero from sale for containing a cancerous
ingredient, sodium cyclamate, an ingredient not included in the US version of
the drink.
By Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

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Mérida,
June 12th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - On Wednesday the Venezuelan Ministry for
Health ordered the Coca-Cola Company to remove its product Coca-Cola Zero from sale
for containing a cancerous ingredient, sodium cyclamate, an ingredient not
included in the US version of the drink.

Jesus
Mantilla, the health minister, said, "The product should stop circulating in
order to protect the health of Venezuelans." He said the product contains
sodium cyclamate, which in large amounts can be harmful, and then announced
that the product should be recalled, destroyed, and not produced anymore.

Divis
Antunez, director of sanitary control for the Health Ministry, said the ingredient
wasn't in the company's application that it made in 2007 and that was approved
by the Ministry. Later, in a random test conducted by the National Institute
for Hygiene Rafael Rangel, sodium cyclamate was found and the Health Ministry started
a legal process for non-compliance with the Health Registry.

Antunez
said that the recommended amount of sodium cyclamate for human consumption is
11 mg per kilo, whereas the new Coca-Cola Zero has 18-22mg per 10 mils,
exceeding the amount approved by the Venezuelan Commission of Industrial Norms
(COVENIN).

Yesterday
Coca-Cola said in a press release, "The Coca-Cola Company and its bottler
Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela responsibly declare that Coca-Cola Zero doesn't
contain any ingredient that could be harmful to the health." However, Coca-Cola
said that until the government concludes its administrative proceedings it will
suspend production in Venezuela and recall the drink.

Coca-Cola
Zero is a drink without any calories (or an amount small enough to be rounded
down to zero) and is marketed to young males who are self conscious of their
weight but see Diet Coke as being for women. The diet and zero versions in the
US, England, and Canada both contain non-calorie sweeteners aspartame (E951)
and acesulfame K (E950), but in slightly different proportions and they
therefore have slightly different tastes.

However
the versions produced in Venezuela
(as well as in Chile
and some other Central American countries) have sodium cyclamate (E952) in
larger proportions than aspartame. Whilst aspartame is cleared by the US Food
and Drug Administration (FDA), sodium cyclamate has been prohibited since 1969
when it was proved to cause cancerous tumours and congenital malformations.

Sodium
cyclamate, when combined with other chemicals, has the capacity to sweeten up
to 600 times more than sugar. According to Aporrea.org, it is also much cheaper
than aspartame at $10/kilo compared to $152/kilo for aspartame.

In
Mexico in August 2007, El Universal-Mexico reported that Coca-Cola was also
putting sodium cyclamate in the coca-cola zero drink there. The article said
that the drink contained 25mg of the ingredient for every 100g in a can of
355ml.  Pro-U.S president Vicente Fox
authorized the ingredient for the government's list of permitted food additives
in July 2006.

In
February 2008 Mexican feminist news Cimanoticias reported that consumers had
"triumphed" and that the ingredient had been removed from the drink.

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