Things get worse with Coke

Things get worse with Coke

That’s the headline on today’s Guardian report of the saga of Coca-Cola’s attempt to muscle in on the huge and growing UK market for bottled water. Excerpt:

“First, Coca-Cola’s new brand of “pure” bottled water, Dasani, was revealed earlier this month to be tap water taken from the mains. Then it emerged that what the firm described as its “highly sophisticated purification process”, based on Nasa spacecraft technology, was in fact reverse osmosis used in many modest domestic water purification units.

Yesterday, just when executives in charge of a 7m marketing push for the product must have felt it could get no worse, it did precisely that.

The entire UK supply of Dasani was pulled off the shelves because it has been contaminated with bromate, a cancer-causing chemical.

So now the full scale of Coke’s PR disaster is clear. It goes something like this: take Thames Water from the tap in your factory in Sidcup, Kent; put it through a purification process, call it “pure” and give it a mark-up from 0.03p to 95p per half litre; in the process, add a batch of calcium chloride, containing bromide, for “taste profile”; then pump ozone through it, oxidising the bromide – which is not a problem – into bromate – which is. Finally, dispatch to the shops bottles of water containing up to twice the legal limit for bromate (10 micrograms per litre).

The Drinking Water Inspectorate confirmed yesterday it had checked the Thames water supplied to the factory and found it free of bromate. Because it is unsafe at high levels, standards for bromate in tap water are strictly monitored.”

If you wanted a case study in the fatuity of the contemporary obsession with ‘brands’ and branding, then this is it. Would you buy anything from a company which engaged in this kind of cynical nonsense? Sadly, many people do.