CARACAS, June 11 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuela's Health Ministry has banned the Coca-Cola Zero sugar-free drink citing dangers to human health, national media said on Thursday.
The ministry's inspectors visited a Ñoca-Cola factory on Wednesday and discovered a "harmful ingredient" in the Coke Zero drink. Media reports did not specify the health threat posed by product.
Health Minister Jesus Mantilla has ordered the drink to be removed from Venezuela's stores saying: "The product should be withdrawn from circulation to preserve the health of Venezuelans."
The U.S.-based Coca-Cola company issued a statement denying the accusations: "Coke Zero is made under the highest quality standards and meets the sanitary requirements demanded by the laws of Venezuela."
The company, the world's largest producer of soft drinks, is active on the markets almost all the world's countries.
The Coca-Cola Zero brand was launched in 2004.
The pressure against the U.S. company comes amid a rise in punitive measures by the Venezuelan government on foreign food plants. In March, officials ordered the seizure of a rice processing plant owned by U.S. food giant Cargill for not distributing rice at government-set prices.