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February 2, 2010

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Boy poisoned by spiked Sprite

THE Coca-Cola Beverage Co said yesterday someone maliciously put poison substances in Sprite sold in a supermarket in Beijing.

The company made this statement in response to media reports that a second person was poisoned by mercury in the Chinese capital after having the lemon-lime drink, three months after a first case was publicized.

The company, which supplies all the Coca-Cola carbonated drinks in Beijing, said in the statement that it had checked every production procedure and was sure no mercury had been involved in production.

The company said it will cooperate with the police investigation.

The second victim is 13-year-old Wang Cheng.

He bought a can of Sprite dated August 2009 at a supermarket near his school in Tongxian County on January 17, yesterday's Beijing Times reported.

He took a swallow of the drink but found it tasted like jelly. His father poured the rest into a glass and found a bean-sized mercury ball.

The boy complained he was thirsty half an hour later and soon felt dizzy and headache, the newspaper said.

He was sent to the Beijing 307 Hospital where he was diagnosed mercury poisoning.

Police closed the supermarket in the afternoon and took the rest of the Sprite of the same production date away for further examination, the supermarket owner told the newspaper.

An X-ray check found a 6cm long, 1cm wide glaring strip on the boy's stomach, which his doctor said indicated the presence of mercury.

Wang is recovering but mercury in his blood was tested 3.6 percent yesterday, still higher than the standard of 2.5 percent, the doctor said.

Though, theoretically, light mercury poisoning would not pose great damage to the human body, it remains possible that harm could result to the boy's nervous and reproductive systems, considering his young age, according to the doctor.

His parents have spent 30,000 yuan (US$4,394) on the treatment.

Beijing Coca-Cola, denying that mercury was involved in production, told the paper that even thermometers in the company were made of alcohol.


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