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Coca Cola disputes whether drink led to death

Published: 6:33AM Wednesday February 13, 2013 Source: ONE News

Coca Cola is rejecting a coroner's ruling that the death of an Invercargill woman was most likely due to excessive consumption of Coke.

Invercargill mum Natasha Harris, 31, died in her home after suffering a cardiac arrhythmia, likely brought on by a soft-drink habit described by her family as "an addiction", the coroner's report stated.

She drank up to 10 litres of Coke every day - twice the recommended safe limit of caffeine.

The coroner concluded her medical condition was most likely caused by the amount she drank.

Her Coke drinking had caused her to have several teeth removed after they became rotten, and at least one of her children was born without enamel on their teeth.

The global soft drink giant issued a statement to ONE News saying it is "disappointed" by the coroner's decision, and the cause of Harris' death could not be certain.

It suggested other factors could have been responsible for causing Harris' low potassium levels and fatty liver, such as undiagnosed diabetes and anaemia.

"We are disappointed that the coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms Harris' excessive consumption of Coca Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death," the company said.

"This is contrary to the evidence that showed the experts could not agree on the most likely cause."

However, Coca Cola's theories were dismissed by pathologist Dr Dan Mornin and a second clinical expert was brought in to review the findings.

Coroner David Crerar suggested Coca Cola "give consideration" to the amount of caffeine in its drinks, and the introduction of appropriate warnings on its products.

He said a copy of his findings will be sent to the Ministry of Health, with a recommendation that it considers bolstering warnings on carbonated beverages to "give sufficient protection to consumers" and ensure potential dangers are "more clearly emphasised".