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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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