BEIJING -- Chinese police believe a child who died after drinking a Coca Cola-made yogurt drink was probably the victim of deliberate poisoning, state media reported Tuesday.
A testing agency found no toxins in samples from the same batch of the drink.
"The police's technical tests and investigations have preliminarily confirmed that this incident is a criminal case in Changchun, which reaffirms that it is not related in any way to our product quality," Joanna Price, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said in an emailed statement.
An 11-year-old boy died in Changchun city in Jilin province after he drank the strawberry-flavored Pulpy Milky yogurt drink on Nov. 28, and his mother was severely ill after consuming the same drink.
Another mother and her daughter became ill after drinking another bottle of the same drink in Jilin a few days earlier, but recovered, Coca-Cola spokeswoman Price said earlier.
Police have reached the "preliminary conclusion" that the drink was tampered with, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the provincial public security office.
Investigators in both cases found highly toxic pesticides present in the remains of the drinks, according to the report.
But tests carried out by the China National Centre for Food Quality Supervision and Testing "showed no existence of Methomyl or thiodicarb, two toxic pesticides, on the samples of the same batch of the strawberry-flavored milk drinks taken by the victim," the Xinhua news agency reported late Monday.
Checks of the production process also found they were safe, the report also said, citing a statement from Coca-Cola. Checks of other Coca-Cola products on sale in Changchun also did not find toxins, the Xinhua report said.
"All these tests and reviews indicate our products are safe and within standards," Price said in her email. "This incident is an isolated act that occurred in Changchun, and we are one hundred percent confident that our products are safe and in good quality."
The company and officials earlier agreed the yogurt drink should be removed from shelves in Jilin province while the investigation was under way.
Food scandals are common in China, where crackdowns have failed to stamp out poisonings and toxin outbreaks that have shaken consumer confidence.
Foreign companies are watched closely as they are generally perceived to hold stricter standards. When Western companies are accused of transgressions, it becomes big news in China.
The Xinhua report said cases in 2009 and 2010 of a man and a teenager being poisoned by mercury in Sprite, a Coke-produced soft drink, were traced to intentional poisonings, not quality problems.
Coca-Cola controls about 63 percent of China's soft drinks market, Bloomberg reported.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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