Venezuela Bans Coke Zero

image5081711gThe government of Venezuela has banned the sale of Coca-Cola’s no-calorie Coke Zero in the country and called on retailers to pull the product from their shelves.

The country’s health minister cited unspecified health concerns said the ban is aimed at “preserving the health of Venezuelans,” but did not specify the government’s health concerns.

The Atlanta-based company, the world’s largest soft drink maker, also said Thursday that it is temporarily halting production of the brand. It had been in Venezuela for two months.

Spokeswoman Kerry Kerr said Venezuela has not raised specific concerns about the formula or the company’s local operations. She said the company is in discussions with the government and the brand is safe.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been a frequent critic of the United States and some observers see the ban as a jab at a major U.S. company, according to reports by the BBC, the Guardian, and Reuters.

Venezuela has previously “seized a rice mill and pasta factory belonging to U.S. food giant Cargill and has threatened action against pharmaceutical company Pfizer,” the BBC reports.

The ban apparently does not affect Coca-Cola’s other products.

source: CBS News online

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