WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand food industry association on Wednesday rejected a coroner’s call to add health warnings to soft-drink labels following the 2010 death of a woman who drank about two gallons of Coca-Cola a day.
Coroner David Crerar issued a final report Tuesday into the death of 31-year-old Natasha Harris, concluding that the mother of eight died from a heart attack. He said the large amount of Coca-Cola she drank likely led to metabolic imbalances that gave rise to her heart problems, adding that Coke was likely a “substantial factor” in her death.
But New Zealand Food & Grocery Council Chief Executive Katherine Rich said “there isn’t a labeling regime in the world” that could have prevented the death of somebody who chose to drink Coke in such large quantities.
The New Zealand branch of the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company, the world’s largest beverage maker, disputed the coroner’s findings, noting that experts could not agree on the most likely cause of Harris’ death.
Crerar recommended that soft-drink makers consider including caffeine levels on the labels and warnings about the ill health effects if the drinks are consumed in excessive quantities.
Under New Zealand’s food labeling system, warnings are mandatory on drinks with caffeine levels higher than 145 milligrams per kilogram. That covers many energy drinks, but not most soft drinks.
Rich said the coroner’s recommendations were well-intentioned but ill-informed. She said that coffee, tea and chocolate also contain significant amounts of caffeine and that New Zealanders are unlikely to support the notion of health warnings every time they walk into a cafe or buy a chocolate bar.
She said the huge volume of Coca-Cola that Harris drank meant she couldn’t receive adequate nutrients from other food sources.
“It doesn’t matter what the food is. If it’s consumed in excess, there will be ill health effects,” Rich said. “It’s clearly a very tragic and complex case, but not one that provides a strong argument for changes to labeling.”
At a 2011 inquest into Harris’ death, Vivienne Hodgkinson, the mother of Harris’ boyfriend, said that Harris always needed to have Coca-Cola available, and that if she ran out she would “get the shakes, withdrawal symptoms; be angry, on edge and snappy.”
The coroner also heard evidence that Harris was of normal weight, didn’t eat much or drink any alcohol, and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day. She drank only regular Coke, preferring the taste over diet or caffeine-free varieties. The coroner heard that Harris had no energy in the months leading up to her death, felt ill all the time and often vomited and experienced a racing heart.
The coroner said it was hard to be certain about how much Coke Harris drank, but after reviewing evidence from her partner and friends, as well as 51 supermarket receipts, he estimated it was between 6 and 10 liters (1.6 and 2.6 gallons) per day.
The pathologist who examined Harris found that she likely suffered from hypokalemia, or low potassium, which contributed to her health problems, and that she had an enlarged liver from excessive sugar consumption.
Another pathologist giving expert testimony said that excessive cola consumption “can be dramatically symptomatic, and there are strong hypothetical grounds for this becoming fatal in individual cases.”
But a third pathologist giving evidence for Coca-Cola said that Harris’ health problems could have been caused by anemia or diabetes, and that genetic factors may also have played a role.
In a statement, Coca-Cola Oceania said it was disappointed the coroner chose 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. This is contrary to the evidence that showed the experts could not agree on the most likely cause.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/7-10/14)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Nite | to the tune of @cnn 😞
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2. Got so much work to do but I just wanna stay in bed and binge watch #Gameofthrones and start the new season of #OnceUponATime. I know I can't be the only one. Right? Ha 💤🦁🍂 #saturday
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3. Mommy's weekend turn up ❤️👶🏾💕🍼 Wouldn't trade it for nothing. #TeamNoSleep lol #HesMyBiggestBlessing ✨
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4. One of them oh shit mont we made it feelings … this shit still be unreal 💯💪🏾 @remyboymonty1738
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5. Tickets Available October 14 @ticketmaster.
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6. People magazine Home edition has raided my house! Get a sneak peek into the bedroom life of the Leakes and see other parts of my home now at PEOPLE.COM
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7. They want to kick you when you down, but kick it when you up
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8. Got my advance copy of #Mafia3 at @gamestop. Get yours via link in the bio #Mafia3 #Ad
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9. This is some of the cast and our diverse team of writers in the writer's room creating funny sh*t for @nbcmarlon what a fun room! Lots of jokes, great stories and having a great time doing what we love... making people laugh and feel something. Look out for our show next year @nbcmarlon we bringing sitcoms back to NBC
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10. #HappySunday☀️Thank you @4everbrandy101 💛💡💛
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11. Happy to be back in Central Falls, RI breaking ground for the One Stop Health Center and hosting a local community event with #Vaseline.
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12. Thank you all in advance 💋💋💋 #Repost @urbansvintage・・・#TarajiPHenson's memoir #AroundTheWayGirl will be available everywhere TODAY October 11th! Will you be purchasing a copy? #UrbansVintage
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13. Moms got my back
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14. @galore dinner party glo ✨ thanks to @styledbygiigii
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15. 🌹#ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLikeTOUR #forevereve
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16. Yes, all those videos I've been posting have led to this: the introduction of skincare to @TYRABeauty! This is the rundown on the new line:Years of research and beauty tips I live by led me to produce the most effective and delightful skincare out there. I'm all about taking really good care of my skin, so I can look like I'm aging in #TyraYears and go filter free on Instagram when I feel like it! Now, it's your turn. ✨My Mama always told me not to wash my face with just my hands. "Tyra, girl, you're just moving the dirt around!" And I've listened. First up is The Clean Machine.... ...a 3-in-1 foaming face wash that cleanses, removes makeup and purified your skin. It has patented technology - a attached Turbo Cleansing Tool - to give you that deep clean that makes your skin feel super fresh. Wanna know more? Yeah, baby. Click that link in my bio.
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17. On set of #beingmaryjane like... ❤️😬💃🏾
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18. #carouselofhope@yvetteshelton100@makeupbylatrice @thestacetheface@marialuciahohan24
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19. I refuse to let a little cold stop me from my daily routines to greatness. #onlythestrongsurvive #warriors
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20. Big things begin with big THINKING... #BusinessEthics #SetLife 🎥
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21. Goodnight - here's a song
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22. Words can't explain the feeling that I have right now.....God is good. look momma I made it. #Harts #Blessed #WhatNow #comedicrockstarshit #4DaysAway
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23. I tried to get a better video with out the nasty bib but she started getting mad at me..lol! Big cuz @the_queen_caitlin trying to show her what to do. #MamasToots #HeirBear👑💜
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24. Gorgeous Serena joined Beyoncé in Formation last night on stage in New Jersey!!!
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25. 😜 @lifeofdesiigner & @rockohill
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