Police are investigating how what appears to be human waste turned up in drink cans at a Coca-Cola factory in Northern Ireland.
On March 28, Tuesday, police confirmed that they have started an inquiry on how fecal matter appeared in the cans located at the Hellenic Bottling Company’s factory in Lisburn.
What Potentially Happened
Last week during the night shift, the factory’s operation was disrupted when machines became clogged, at which point Coca-Cola decided to suspend processing. The soft drink company said it impounded all affected cans, and that other products on sale were not contaminated.
The cans, arriving at the factory without tops, are filled with the product before being sealed and sold across the country. According to reports, a specific consignment may have been tainted.
“The investigation is at an early stage and there are no further details available at this time,” a Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesperson said in a Guardian report.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, a source disclosed that the machines had to be turned off for around 15 hours in order to be cleaned.
In its statement, Coca-Cola said it takes product safety and quality “extremely seriously,” and that the company is cooperating with authorities in probing the incident at the plant.
“The problem was identified immediately through our robust quality procedures and all of the product from the affected production was immediately impounded and will not be sold,” Cola-Cola noted, calling it an isolated incident.
The Food Standards Agency assured the public that none of the tainted cans had penetrated the market.
Metal, Other Foreign Objects Discovered In Food
The food production industry is no stranger to contamination of its food items and beverages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Health Hazard Evaluation Board estimated that from 1972 to 1997, there were around 190 cases of hard or sharp foreign materials making their way to food products.
The metal contamination likely emerged from a certain conveyor belt in the company’s processing plant.
Glass fragments also appear to be a common food product contaminant, posing potential safety concerns. Last January, glass hazards forced craft brewery firm Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to recall some of its bottled beer as a precautionary step against a packaging flaw.
Similar glass incidents also previously affected All Nice! Sliced peaches and mixed fruits distributed at Walgreens, as well as tea products from Sweet Leaf Tea Company back in 2015.
Tiny plastic pieces also made their way into some cans of Campbell's SpaghettiOs Original in November 2015, believed to come from some sections of the can lining.
Wood materials have also contaminated food items, such as in the case of Huisken Meat Company recalling some of its Sam’s Choice Black Angus Vidalia Onion.
The FDA maintains a list of public recall notices to warn consumers of potential or confirmed risks with the use of the listed products. It covers not just food and beverages, but also drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics, to name a few.