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Fake Coca-Cola Production in Pakistan Shocks Netizens Raising Health Concerns

© AP Photo / Gurinder OsanCampa Cola
Campa Cola  - Sputnik India, 1920, 23.04.2024
Recently a video went viral on social media showing a group of men working in a dingy shop pouring a dark liquid from a tub into Coca-Cola bottles. The final result is a perfectly normal looking Coca-Cola bottle that one might confuse with an original one.
The video which generated tens of thousands of views was allegedly shot in Punjab's town of Gujranwala, and it is not the first time. There have been many instances of fake beverages productions in Pakistan.
These counterfeit operations were discovered in unsanitary conditions, with the fake beverages being prepared with hazardous chemicals, loose non-food grade colors, artificial sweeteners, and unclean tap water.
Sputnik spoke with a Lahore resident and father of three kids, who said that the recent video is shocking and is making him anxious for his children’s health.

"I have previously also seen similar reports on news channels that there is an illegal production of food items and drinks which are made in terrible conditions and later sold as the original thing. So it is an endemic in Pakistan which is quite disturbing," Abbas Shamsi shared.

Dangers of Fake Food Items

What concerns civilians like Abbass is that consuming such counterfeit food and drinks can pose serious health risks such as food poisoning, which can cause symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, and drowsiness.
Fake food and drinks may also contain allergens that are not declared on the label, posing a risk to people with food allergies.

"Such drinks can cause serious infections as the unsanitary production conditions can lead to the presence of harmful bacteria in the food or drinks, potentially leading to infections and my main concern is the children who get exposed to this. Like the recent video of fake Coca-Cola is shocking because at the end of the video it looks like a real bottle of coke, so it is not easy to tell that it is a fake. Children love fizzy drinks so it is quite distressing that such drinks can end up in one's refrigerator," the civilian added.

Identifying fake food and drinks can be challenging, but there are several signs that one can look out for.

How to Identify a Fake Beverage?

Sputnik spoke to a Lahore based chef, Sher Ali, who explained that when he goes out for grocery shopping he is careful because he is aware that fake products end up on aisles of shopping stores.
"I always avoid brands that I have never heard of or seen on advertisements. I am wary of brand names that are unfamiliar, also if the price of a food or drink item seems too good to be true, it might be a counterfeit product," the chef explained.
Another tip is to look out for poorly printed labels and spelling errors on the packaging, which are often indications of counterfeit products.

"These fake Coca-Cola bottles are hard to tell apart from the real ones, but if you look carefully sometimes the printing on the bottle will be faded, as the bottle was not new when they poured the fake liquid into it. Also the liquid can at times be darker than the real coke, so that may also help with distinguishing the counterfeit product from the real thing. Most importantly is the smell though, and I have trained my nose to smell everything before I eat or drink it!" the chef added.

Endemic of Fake Coca-Cola

"There is definitely an endemic of fake Coca-Cola production in Pakistan because I can tell by the smell and taste of it. A few times I have had cola which was too sweet and it wasn't as carbonated as the real thing," Lahore based businessman, Arsalan Khalid, told Sputnik.
He added that now whenever he goes to a cafe or a restaurant he only asks for Coca-Cola in "metallic cans as that still tastes like a real coke. I never drink it from a bottle be it a plastic one or a glass one because they are the easiest to counterfeit."
As for how authorities in Pakistan are handling the situation, there have been several instances where local authorities have conducted raids on illegal factories producing fake beverages.

According to the businessman, "in these raids authorities have confiscated thousands of liters of spurious drinks and arrested individuals involved in these illegal operations".

These actions indicate that authorities are taking steps to address the issue and protect public health. There are also several television shows in which reporters with cameramen raid illegal production hotbeds and expose it on TV for millions of Pakistanis to be aware of.
“It is important to realize that Pakistan is a country of over 240 million and there are thousands of illegal little shops and factories where such counterfeit production is taking place. Bringing it all under control requires constant vigilance, good investment by the government to curb such malpractices. I feel much more needs to be done to prevent counterfeit products from reaching our shops and homes," Khalid concluded.
People wait for free food outside an eatery in Ahmedabad, India, on Jan. 20, 2021. - Sputnik India, 1920, 26.02.2024
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