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Thousands of cans of the world's most popular soft drink are being sold illegally in Scotland.

American giants Coca-Cola are angry about consignments of the soft drink - made in SPAIN - which are flooding into the country.

And the Mail can reveal that one of the places the Coca-Cola is being sold is a company owned by controversial Asian businessman Mohammed Sarwar.

The cans carry no labelling in English. And anyone who has a complaint about the drink is given instruction in Spanish and a number in MADRID to call.

All food and drink products sold in Britain must by law have the contents clearly displayed in English. Failure to do so can result in court action and a pounds 2,000 fine.

Glasgow's environmental health department is launching a probe.

In the last few months, crate loads of Spanish Coke have turned up in shops and cafes in Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Sunday Mail investigators tracked down a batch to a cash and carry shop in Glasgow's Maxwell Road run by United Wholesale Grocers Ltd - a company owned by Sarwar and another businessman.

On Thursday, we were able to buy a case of 24 cans for pounds 5.51, a cost of 23 pence a can.

Our reporter questioned staff about the the ingredients written in Spanish and was assured everything was in order.

When we confronted Mr Sarwar he claimed that customers coming into his cash and carry were given special English language stickers for the Spanish cans.

Our reporter wasn't given a sticker.

Mr Sarwar added: "It must be the retailers who are forgetting to put the labels on the cans."

"Ours is not the only cash and carry in Scotland selling these cans."

Mr Sarwar was unable to tell the Mail exactly how United obtained the cans.

We returned to the warehouse yesterday morning. Notices stating: "Euro Coke. List of English ingredients available at counter" were on view at the tills and entrance.

But when our investigators bought a crate of the coke just after 11.00am, no leaflets were handed over and they asked why.

At the administration desk they were told: "Sorry we've run out of leaflets. We're going to get some more printed at our head office."

Liz Corbet of Glasgow's Environmental Health Department said: "We will be investigating. The contents of a soft drink container should be clear to the purchaser.

"Anyone selling cans without the proper labelling should remove them from sale immediately."

Ian Moir spokesman for Coca-Cola in Britain said: "We are very concerned. I would ask anyone finding these Spanish cans to contact their local environmental health or trading standards department.

"Unfortunately we cannot stop these cans coming in. They are made under licence by Coca-Cola-Schweppes in Spain but should not be sold in Britain."

Coca-Cola have a bottling and canning plant in East Kilbride.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Author:Silvester, Norman
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 14, 1996
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