A CORONER in New Zealand has taken on the world's most valuable brand in a case that will reverberate around the world. David Crerar found that Natasha Harris, a mother of eight, died from drinking too much Coke.
Ms Harris, of Invercargill, died aged 30 in February 2010. Evidence at her inquest showed she drank up to 10 litres of ''classic'' Coke a day - more than twice the safe daily limit of caffeine, and almost a kilogram of sugar.
Coca-Cola has argued the huge volumes of Coke could not be proven to have contributed to her death. But in findings issued on Tuesday, Mr Crerar said Ms Harris would not have died if it was not for her dependence on the drink.
''I find that, when all of the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died,'' he said.
He said the company was not to blame for her death, although its product was a contributing factor. He recommended the government consider imposing caffeine and sugar warnings on soft drinks, such as those already compulsory on energy drinks.
In the months before her death, Ms Harris's health had deteriorated, her partner, Chris Hodgkinson, told the inquest. ''She had no energy and was feeling sick all the time … she would get up and vomit in the morning.''
She had become addicted: ''She would get moody and get headaches if she didn't have any Coke, and also feel low in energy.''
Mr Crerar found she died from cardiac arrhythmia after being found slumped on a toilet, gasping for air.