KENYA – The High Court has ordered giant soft drinks maker Coca-Cola to put nutritional information and customer care details on its glass bottles within six months.
Justice Joseph Onguto in a judgement yesterday said it amounts to discrimination for the beverage maker to display the information on its plastic bottles and not the glass bottles.
He directed Nairobi Bottlers and the mother company to ensure nutritional information, email address and storage directions are displayed on the soft drinks bottle, including Coca-Cola, Fanta, Krest and Stoney.
Mr Mark Ndumia Ndung’u moved to court, accusing the soda bottler of denying its consumers the information. He said as a consumer of Coca-Cola drink in glass bottle, he felt discriminated by the firm’s failure to display nutritional information, email address and storage directions on glass bottles.
He argued that all consumers are equally entitled to access the information on the labels and therefore, there was no justification for having the information in the plastic bottles only.
Mr Ndung’u said the plastic and glass bottles are of the same size, but instead of giving the said information in both, the soft drink maker was using the available space on glass bottle for brand names in big print.
He argued that the nutritional information is critical to consumers in their bid to adopt healthy drinking habits. Consumers, he added, need to know the amounts of calories in order to avoid lifestyle diseases such as obesity.
“It is impossible to consider the benefit that a food or drink product would have to a consumer without considering the nutritional value of the drink,” he said.
Nairobi Bottlers argued that Mr Ndung’u should have first exhausted the mechanisms available to address the matter, before moving to court.
The company said the attempt by the petitioner to give the case a constitutional dimension was wrong.
The company further said there are consumer complaint mechanisms including the Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act, which deal with offences related to non-compliance with the law.
Further, the company said there is no legal obligation imposed on a manufacturer, packer or distributor of soft drinks to display nutritional information and email address on the label of its products.