LONDON (Reuters) - The Coca-Cola Co said on Friday it had recalled its entire Dasani range of bottled water from the British market after levels of bromate, a potentially harmful chemical, were found to exceed legal standards.
The U.S. soft drinks giant consulted the Food Standards Agency, Britain`s food quality watchdog, which said the withdrawal was a "sensible" measure.
"Bromate is a chemical that could cause an increased cancer risk as a result of long-term exposure, although there is no immediate risk to public health," the agency said in a statement.
The recall, described by Coca-Cola as a voluntary precautionary measure, could prove a serious blow to the company`s efforts to break into the British market for bottled water.
It was recently criticized in British media after its disclosure that Dasani was in fact treated and purified tap water -- a practice not uncommon in the bottled-water industry.
The recall of about 500,000 bottles of Dasani... in the UK... had already begun and would largely be completed within 24 hours, the company said in a statement.
Coca-Cola said the bromate was formed during the gas purification process it used in Dasani manufacturing and bottling. To ensure that Dasani meets calcium levels required in all UK bottled water products, it adds calcium chloride, a derivative of bromide. But due to the amount of bromide in the water, the ozonation process caused bromate to form at unacceptable levels, Coca Cola said.
Growth in bottled water sales is far outstripping that of other soft drinks across the globe, and Coca Cola water... rapidly became the number two U.S. brand.
Unlike spring or source waters, which are taken from one or more natural springs and purified, Dasani is essentially filtered and treated municipal mains water, except in Belgium, where the brand is a spring water.
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