California, LA Sue Coca-Cola Over Lead Paint in Labels
Associated Press
May 16, 2006

LOS ANGELES - State and city officials sued Coca-Cola Co. and its Mexican affiliates to eliminate bottles from Mexico that have lead-based ink in labels.

The suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, said the bottles are showing up in California and violate state Proposition 65 by failing to include a warning about the toxic chemical.

The suit contends that paint on Mexican bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and other soft drinks can rub off and be ingested. The lawsuit does not claim the liquid inside the bottles is contaminated.

"Lead is so toxic that even minuscule amounts can be hazardous to human health," said the suit, which was filed by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

The lawsuit demands that Coke and its Mexican affiliates stop using the paint.

In a statement, Coca-Cola called the suit "outlandish" and said all bottles currently produced in Mexico are lead-free.

The suit involves a refillable glass bottle that was never authorized for sale in California and is being phased out in Mexico, the statement said.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said it is taking steps to settle the lawsuit.

The suit is similar to one against PepsiCo Inc. that was settled last month when the company agreed to stop using labels containing lead-based ink on its bottles sold in Mexico.

It requires the company to pay a $1 million civil penalty and another $4.25 million if it doesn't meet a seven-year phase-out target.

That suit was also filed under Proposition 65.

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