The Coca-Cola Company has announced that it is cooperating with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in an investigation to determine how a shipment of empty Coke cans apparently contaminated with human waste turned up at the Coca-Cola HBC plant in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.
No consumer products were affected by the contamination, which was restricted to the facility, the company says.
The incident was first reported in the Belfast Telegraph on 28 March 2017:
The night shift at Lisburn's Coca-Cola plant was disrupted last week when a container of cans thought to have arrived from Germany clogged up the machines — only for workers to discover a number were filled with what looked like human waste.
"It was absolutely horrible, and the machines had to be turned off for about 15 hours to be cleaned," a source said. "It was unusual because normally the cans come from somewhere else in the UK, but this time they apparently came from Germany."
Although they did not explicitly confirm or deny that the contaminant was human feces, Coca-Cola issued a prepared statement acknowledging that the incident took place and was under investigation:
At Coca-Cola, we take the safety and quality of our products extremely seriously. We are aware of an incident involving empty cans at our plant in Knockmore Hill, Lisburn. We are treating this matter extremely seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation in cooperation with the PSNI. The problem was identified immediately through our robust quality procedures and all of the product from the affected batch was immediately impounded and will not be sold. This is an isolated incident and does not affect any products currently on sale.
A PSNI spokesperson also confirmed that an investigation was underway, but that no further details were available because it was in its early stages.
The Telegraph's coverage repeated an unsubstantiated rumor to the effect that the contamination may have been caused by immigrants:
"The rumour is that some poor immigrants could have made that long journey in the lorry and that in their desperation were forced to use the cans instead of a toilet.
"It's really shocking — and beyond the shock of finding something pretty disgusting in the cans is the thought there could have been poor people in that situation. And if they did make that journey, where are they now?"
The source explained the cans arrive at the factory without tops on, to be filled with the fizzy drink before they are sealed and sold across Northern Ireland.
The Coca-Cola Company would not comment on the rumor pending the results of their investigation.