Caustic cola: Maker of Taiwanese soft drink Apple Sidra fined NT$1 million for contamination

Tainted tonic: Maker of Taiwanese soda drink Apple Sidra fined NT$1 million by New Taipei health department for contaminants in bottles

Contaminated bottles of Apple Sidra.

Contaminated bottles of Apple Sidra. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Drink maker Oceanic Beverage Co., Inc. (大西洋飲料) was fined NT$1 million (US$32,000) yesterday (Nov. 14) by the New Taipei Department of Health after contaminants were found in its popular bottled beverage Apple Sidra (蘋果西打).

After news broke on Tuesday that the beverage maker was recalling 2-liter bottles of its apple-flavored cola Apple Sidra, the New Taipei Department of Health yesterday (Nov. 14) announced that it would fine the company NT$1 million for violating food safety regulations. After a consumer had complained about the quality of a bottle of carbonated drink to the health department on Monday (Nov. 12), health authorities questioned Oceanic Beverage Co., Inc. and began reviewing the company's customer complaint records on Monday.

From the end of July to September of this year, 122 public complaints had been filed with the company about its drink Apple Sidra containing foreign particles and causing diarrhea and stomach aches. But it was not until September and October that the product was finally recalled and pulled from the shelves.

Apple Sidra on store shelf. (CNA image)

According to the health department, production was finally suspended on Sept. 28 and no initiative was taken to inform the relevant authorities. An investigation found that 2.35 million 2-liter bottles of Apple Sidra had been produced between July and September.

Oceanic Beverage attributed the issue to incomplete disinfection during the production process, according to CNA. However, Yang Shu-chin (楊舒秦), an official at the New Taipei Department of Health told CNA that laboratory tests on the drinks were negative for harmful bacteria.

Bottle taken for testing. (Image from New Taipei Department of Health)

After an inspection was carried out on the factory, health officials found that the drinks contained sediment caused by faulty equipment in the assembly line, according to Yang. According to statistics reported by CNA, 420,000 bottles were recalled by the company and because of the 122 cases of diarrhea, stomach ache, and discomfort reported by consumers, health authorities decided to impose an NT$1 million fine on the company.

The health department appeals to consumers who hold receipts for unopened bottles of Apple Sidra produced before Sept. 28, 2018 to return them in exchange for other goods, before they reach the expiration date. Those who do not have a receipt or wish to receive a full refund can call Ocean Beverage's customer service representatives at 0800-241-548 and (02)29820061(line 10) to arrange for returns or refunds.

Officials present their findings. (CNA image)

Officials present their findings. (CNA image)

Particles seen floating in sample bottles. (CNA image)