Coke pulls Dasani from UK shelves
March 20, 2004 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Coca Cola pulls Dasani from UK shelves after it is found to contain Bromate, a highly carcinogenic derivative of Bromide. The US formula isn't wildly different. What's in your water?
posted by omidius (38 comments total)
Its nice that Pespi's Mountain Dew had Bromated veggie oil.

Cuz I'd hate to think my Dew habbit was less heathy than my mink tea habit.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2004

laugh all you want, silly consumers. it isn't the corporate moguls who are flocking to the store to pay $20 a gallon for tap water, and feeling righteous about it.

somewhere between 1940 and now, most middle class americans (and apparently, europeans as well) got turned into simpering amorphous blobs of desire. in 1940, a man pushing the idea of selling a common commodity like water, in a non-biodegradable plastic container, with a 1000% plus markup, would have been accurately perceived as a huckster with a criminal bent.

the only thing that's changed since then is you.
posted by quonsar at 3:27 PM on March 20, 2004

And, of course, the water.
posted by rushmc at 3:32 PM on March 20, 2004

For some reason I keep finding malt, barley and hops in my water
posted by efalk at 4:13 PM on March 20, 2004

Since they just found that Dasani was bottled tap water, shouldn't the story be about the carcinogens in everyones tap water?

...or is the UK one of those countries where you're not supposed to drink the water?
posted by fatbobsmith at 4:35 PM on March 20, 2004

Since seeing what Coke has done in India- stealing the water they package and sell, and polluting the rest- I'd rather go thirsty than buy Dasani.
posted by obloquy at 4:36 PM on March 20, 2004

shouldn't the story be about the carcinogens in everyones tap water?

no it should not. Coke's industrial process actually turns relatively-benign bromide into harmful (in large quantities) bromate -- hence Dasani ends up being not only more expensive but much more dangerous than the Thames tap water Coke used to manufacture it.

somewhere between 1940 and now,

trout and I, among many others, blame Edward Bernays. you're free to join us whenever you want, q

* happily pours a large glass of crystal-clear, not-too-cold Plose water *
posted by matteo at 4:44 PM on March 20, 2004

fatbobsmith, did you read the article? The carcinogen is introduced during processing. In fact, it appears from the article that the carcinogen is an inherent product of the process -- not a contaminant.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:45 PM on March 20, 2004

matteo, from the plose water link:

"One of the famost waters I've ever tasted !!
Refresh's you even if it isn't cold and without carbonic acid. The only water I'll trink for the rest of my life."

obviously, someone's been trinking the famost kool-aid.

posted by quonsar at 5:23 PM on March 20, 2004

The US formula isn't wildly different. What's in your water?

Uh, the "formula" is purified tap water. If there is bromide in dasani, there is bromide in tap water too, so either way you're fucked.


I know some people may not believe this, but water has a different taste depending on where it comes from. Dasani tastes like rainwater, and I enjoy drinking it the same way I do any other beverage.

In a lot of places, tap water tastes discussing, and is definitely something I would only drink if I was really thirsty.
posted by delmoi at 5:28 PM on March 20, 2004

yeah, q., but five minutes earlier the guy only knew German -- then he trank a few glasses of Plose and suddendly learnt almost-understandable English.
it's a miracle, I tell you! (warning: link does have sound)
posted by matteo at 5:30 PM on March 20, 2004

somewhere between 1940 and now, most middle class Americans (and apparently, Europeans as well) got turned into simpering amorphous blobs of desire. in 1940, a man pushing the idea of selling a common commodity like water, in a non-biodegradable plastic container, with a 1000% plus markup, would have been accurately perceived as a huckster with a criminal bent.

Um, people sold purified water, 'spring water' in the 1940s and before. Probably in plastic... and what does non-biodegradable mean to someone from the '40s?

If people didn't enjoy drinking it, they wouldn't buy it, now would they?
posted by delmoi at 5:31 PM on March 20, 2004

er, okay. Aperanly the bromate is created during the tasting-up process. Oh well. It dosn't change the fact that tap water is discusting.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on March 20, 2004

If there is bromide in dasani, there is bromide in tap water too, so either way you're fucked.

Did you read the article delmoi?

take Thames Water from the tap in your factory in Sidcup, Kent; put it through a purification process, call it "pure" ... add a batch of calcium chloride, containing bromide, for "taste profile"; then pump ozone through it, oxidising the bromide - which is not a problem - into bromate - which is.

I think "process" is perhaps what was originally meant by "formula." It sounds like something about their processing of the tap introduces the problem. But by all means, don't let a little detailed information come between you and cancer ;)

Things Get Worse with Coke is an awesome headline, btw.
posted by scarabic at 5:36 PM on March 20, 2004

woops - didn't get that last comment on preview, delmoi. cheers-
posted by scarabic at 5:38 PM on March 20, 2004

Bromide is a naturally occurring trace chemical which has a sedative effect. It is said to have been added by the British army to soldiers' tea during the second world war to dampen down their lust.

It's interesting to see this urban legand perpetuated. Although Snopes may not have this one exactly right, bromide was for purification / taste just not for de-libido-ing.
posted by milovoo at 6:16 PM on March 20, 2004

The only safe beverages are Dr. Pepper and Ovaltine.
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on March 20, 2004

Some people like water with a taste: wait a minute, did you know pure water has no taste and no smell? Why ? If 99,9% pure it must contain no minerals or additives (link). I wonder what kind of nasty shiz is in Thames' water.

On a tangent: Are you so sure you want your tapwater to be controlled by Oh So Efficient (NOT) private enterprises ? (link)
posted by elpapacito at 7:50 PM on March 20, 2004

Metafilter: tastes discussing.
posted by dhartung at 7:57 PM on March 20, 2004

Boston tap water hasn't killed me yet. And with all the calcium in the water here, I should have bones of steel when the pollutants melt my organs in a few years.
posted by swerve at 8:04 PM on March 20, 2004

Aperanly the bromate is created during the tasting-up process. Oh well. It dosn't change the fact that tap water is discusting.

aperanly you've ingested discusting quantities of something stronger than tap water, my friend. :-)
posted by quonsar at 8:11 PM on March 20, 2004

I don't understand the hate of tap water. Now, I'm not well traveled, I admit that, but in the cities I have been in, I've never had an issue with the tap water being 'disgusting'.

Typically, the taste didn't vary too much. It was a very mild difference, when there was one. The only time I was hesitant to drink the water was when I was in Dallas, TX for business, but then only because of Gov. Bush's wonderful environmental policies, arsenic and all that.
posted by benjh at 8:39 PM on March 20, 2004

I live outside Dallas, right beside the primary water reservoir for the area...which is also a recreational lake...go figure. The mineral content is so high here that we have to replace the screens in the faucets pretty regularly. The filter for the fridge/icemaker has to be replaced at a level that's significantly higher than the manufacturer thinks it should have to be replaced, if we don't use a purifier filter on the tap, we'll kill coffee pots in about 6 months because of the mineral build up.

And that's just the natural stuff in the water, that's not even the weird pollutants, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. We use the highest grade filter we can afford for tap water, and hope for the best. I'm pretty aware that bottled water is the very same thing...just in useless and wasteful containers and at an ungodly price.
posted by dejah420 at 8:59 PM on March 20, 2004

Paying for water in a tiny plastic bottle when I can have it for very nearly nothing from the tap? And the bottled stuff gives me cancer, as well?

Not surprising, when you realize that "Evian" is "naive" spelled backwards.

The only reason I can think of for buying bottled water is if you want something cold, and don't have the mental acumen or foresight to fill a bottle with tap water and put it in the fridge.
posted by spazzm at 9:01 PM on March 20, 2004

Look, I live in LA, and I'll be damned if I'm going to drink the tap water if I can avoid it at all. From the Colorado River to Yucca Mountain to industrial waste plumes from places like China Lake, Edwards Airforce Base, Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks and various other aerospace and heavy industry clusterf^h^h^h locations, I simply don't trust it.

I'll take it distilled and *then* double purified with sub-micron reverse osmosis filters, thank you, if only for the (lack of) taste and because hydration in a desert is damn important.

Ever taste the tapwater from any given burger joint in Hollywood? I've seen that stuff come out thick enough to glue up posters with. I once opened a tap in a Jack-in-the-Box bathroom on Sunset and a whole family of CHUD-like mole people poured out, toweled off and asked for directions to the consarned Scientology headquarters, and then hit me up for spare change.

And you'd think well water from aquifers out in remote desert locations would be pure enough to drink, right? Because of the damn methamphetamine epidemic everywhere, the illegal dumping of chemical byproducts of the meth cooking process makes the well water out there flammable.

You drink it. I'll stick to whatever distilled, mineral and flouride free water I can get my hands on. Precious bodily fluids indeed.

No one I know here drinks the tapwater straight. Some simply filter the tapwater, some actually have home distillation or reverse osmosis filters (of the sort you generally find on deep sea boats and yachts), some have it delivered, and some buy it from the store.

People actually do walk in LA, but only mad dogs and Englishmen drink the tap water.
posted by loquacious at 2:48 AM on March 21, 2004

Getting back to the story, two extra bits of info for your amusement for all you Americans

1) One of the reasons that Dasani being based on tap water was such a PR disaster in the UK was that conmen selling "Peckham Spring" (tap) water was the plot to a famous episode of TV comedy "Only Fools and Horses". Thus all the UK newspaper headlines alluding to "Sidcup Spring" water. Peckham and Sidcup - location of Dasani plant - being not the most er idyllic of places.

2) Last week the UK geek community noticed that the Dasani website featured a woman declaring proudly "Can't live without spunk" which is, well, something you'd perhaps only hear a porn star saying. The site was quickly edited...
posted by elliot100 at 3:11 AM on March 21, 2004

insert complimentary "Dasani bukkake" joke here

posted by matteo at 6:14 AM on March 21, 2004

People actually do walk in LA, but only mad dogs and Englishmen drink the tap water.

you coastal city dwellers sure do be a pussified lot.
posted by quonsar at 7:44 AM on March 21, 2004

What is ignored: cavities in children and in adults began to plummet with the introduction of floride in city water, supplied via resevoirs. Now, with bottled water, without floride (removed) cavities are again to show up with much greater frequency...(one bottled water in fact put floride in its bottles, but that the exception and not readily avaiable).
posted by Postroad at 8:51 AM on March 21, 2004

Fluoridation is still controversial.
posted by milovoo at 9:06 AM on March 21, 2004

Thanks milovoo. That is one of the links I was looking for.

Postroad, ask yourself this. Which is a lesser of two evils? Cavities? Or dental and skeletal flourosis? How about cavities vs. Alzheimers? Depression? Hyperthyroidism? Hormonal imbalances? Hyperactivity, depression, and other chronic mental illnesses? How about bone cancers? How about toxic metal byproducts in the flouride used for water treatment?

What right does the government have to medicate an entire population with a controversial treatment simply because some malnourished children living in poverty get cavities, most likely due to said malnutrition, lack of access to dental care, and even more likely because their mom's a crackhead, drunk or otherwise absent mother who can't be bothered to make her kids brush her teeth?

39) The US Public Health Service first endorsed fluoridation in 1950, before one single trial had been completed (McClure, 1970)! It may not be coincidental that in the same year of the US PHS endorsement, the Sugar Research Foundation, Inc. (supported by 130 corporations) expressed its aim in dental research as, "To discover effective means of controlling tooth decay by methods other than restricting carbohydrate (sugar) intake" (Waldbott, 1965, p.131).

42) The chemicals used to fluoridate water in the US are not pharmaceutical grade. Instead, they come from the wet scrubbing systems of the superphosphate fertilizer industry. These chemicals (90% of which are sodium fluorosilicate and fluorosilicic acid), are classified hazardous wastes contaminated with toxic metals and trace amounts of radioactive isotopes. Recent testing by the National Sanitation Foundation suggest that the levels of arsenic in these chemicals are high and of significant concern.

Mmm. Tasty stuff.
posted by loquacious at 1:13 PM on March 21, 2004

Oh, and you coastal city dwellers sure do be a pussified lot. -quonsar.

Ok, sucker. Let's go backpacking in the Mojave Narrows and we'll see who is a pussy. You ever mountain bike up an 8% grade for 20 miles? How about body surf in 20 foot waves at The Wedge in Newport Beach? You ever skateboard?

I'll eat you for breakfast, homeslice. Calling me pussified simply because I demand clean water is simply wrongheaded. Who's side are you on, anyway?
posted by loquacious at 1:34 PM on March 21, 2004

Psh. You are a pussy. Real men not only drink LA water, they floss their freakin' teeth with it! Booyah!

Back to water: the best water I've ever had was on a limestone mountain, right off the glacier. It was delicious, and I'm sure that's entirely because of it was loaded with minerals.

I've had nearly pure water. It was disgusting.

I drink Brita water. Cheap and nasty, but it's a lot better tasting than the chlorinated crap that comes from the tap; and a lot more convenient and cheaper than delivery water.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:07 PM on March 21, 2004

Look, I know I'm humorlessly reacting to trollishness, but the whole "You're just a pussy" thing fucking sucks fetid, rancid ass fissures, especially when were talking about something as important and fundamental as merely wanting fresh water.

Yeah, it could be worse for me. I could be walking 10 miles to (if I'm lucky) a hand-drawn well of questionable purity.

Whatever. Take your humor and stick it. This is important, and the clean water issue is only going to get worse unless we do something about it.

Clean water is fundamental.
posted by loquacious at 8:25 PM on March 21, 2004

Water needs minerals to taste good. (Distilled water tastes flat.) Read Jeffrey Steingarten's essay in "The Man Who Ate Everything" for an interesting analysis.

It's either Volvic or New York City tap water for me.
posted by Vidiot at 9:23 PM on March 21, 2004

the clean water issue is only going to get worse unless we do something about it.

Are you making the point that the distress of finding your designer water has trace quantities of impurities in it has some parallel with the distress of walking 10 miles to find clean water? If so, I can't follow it.

But I can understand Londoner's wanting to buy purified tap water - there's so much oestrogen in the Thames the fish are hermaphoditic and you must admit, the choice of choosing between developing cancer or growing boobs is a tough one (for a chap).

Me - I live in Scotland and I flush my toilet with water of such a purity that yuppies would kill to buy it in a bottle. Strange life, really.
posted by RichLyon at 4:50 AM on March 22, 2004

I buy bottled water every now and then; but mostly so I can keep the bottle around and refill it with tap water. Seattle's water comes from the Cedar River Watershed, a pristine, almost-completely-undeveloped wilderness basin. Strip the chlorine out and you could sell it as pure mountain spring water.... since that's basically what it is. </brag>
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:58 AM on March 22, 2004

RichLyon: That's not what I'm saying at all. I don't drink "designer water", I drink distilled/purified water. I don't buy Coca-Cola products. Just because I drink purified water doesn't mean it's "designer" water. Almost always it's generic label distilled. (The distilled part is important, because a lot of the "filtered" or "drinking water" bottled water still has a lot of impurities, and is often times even worse than the tap.)

And actually, there is a mild parallel.

I don't drive. I've never owned a car. During the grocery worker's strike here, the delivery service I grew to rely on stopped functioning leaving me to schlep by bike to do grocery shopping for my grandma and I (who I take care of.) I live in a very steep and hilly area, and for those months of the grocery worker's strike I had to bike home - up some really steep hills - with 40 to 80 pound loads in my giant camping backpack or slung in bags off the bar ends of my mountain bike. The round-trip distance is only about 4 or 5 miles, but it's a pretty tough ride under load.

This made getting clean water home very difficult, and I could pretty much only do it if I could get a friend to give me a lift home. Water is damn heavy. During this time I didn't drink nearly enough water. As I've reiterated, the tapwater here is lacking.

Thankfully, the strike is over.

But your pride in the water of such a purity that yuppies would kill to buy it that you use to flush your toilet illustrates my point nicely, thank you. That is one of the water management issues that I'm talking about.

Why do we defecate in perfectly clean water and throw it away? Perhaps in Scotland it isn't such a big deal because of the rate of the water cycle there. Here, with most of our water coming from places like Owens Valley and out of state, it's a gigantic problem. That, and people that insist on having a enormous, perfectly green lawn in the middle of a freaking desert. I don't understand it.

There is nothing to understand. It is madness and waste.
posted by loquacious at 5:00 PM on March 22, 2004

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