ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that Coca-Cola is now offering an apology as they investigate a big batch of bottled water that some suspect made U.S. soldiers and contractors in Afghanistan sick.
Since Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant broke the story earlier this month, the U.S. Army and Coca-Cola have been scrambling for answers.
Diamant learned both are running tests on the water and has confirmed a recall is underway.
For the first time, Diamant had a chance Monday to interview a man who wonders if that water made him sick.
"The battle I had with it was the worst I ever had over there," said Matt, a civilian contractor, who asked not to be identified beyond his name for security reasons.
The contractor spent the last six years working as a contractor at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.
"It was like somebody just took their hand and just stuck it in your gut and twisted," he said.
While on a short leave back home in metro Atlanta, the contractor described the awful stomach illness that knocked him out over there.
"You had explosive diarrhea. I mean, it's just debilitating,” the contractor said.
Earlier this month, a soldier on the same base sent Channel 2 Action News a picture of the U.S. Army signs warning soldiers and others: "Do not drink bottled 'Kinley' water!! … It has been placed on medical hold."
Kinley is one brand of bottled water on the base and is produced in Afghanistan by Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company.
Monday, Coca-Cola confirmed the water Matt and others suspect made them sick came from a bottling facility in Kabul.
"Sometimes you can actually get this water, it doesn't matter which lot, hold it up, shake it and you can see particles floating in it," Matt said.
Channel 2 Action News learned the Army and Coca-Cola are running safety tests on the water, and Coke is already removing several batches of the water from the base.
In a statement to Channel 2 Action News Monday, a spokesman Coca-Cola said:
Following recent reports of quality issues with certain batches of Kinley bottled water at U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Habib Gulzar Non-Alcoholic Beverages Ltd. is removing specific batches of Kinley water as a precautionary measure from the military bases. While product samples recently taken at the bottling plant met all standards for safety and quality, further tests of the
product from the military bases are being conducted. At this time, U.S. military authorities in Afghanistan have not confirmed any illnesses related to the water.
The voluntary product withdrawal will be completed within next few days and notifications have been issued to base personnel. The water will be replaced with a new batch of products. We apologize to our local consumers for any concerns or inconvenience this may have caused them.
The Coca-Cola Company and its Bottlers remain committed to providing safe and high quality products as our top priority and meeting the highest standards to ensure that our products meet our consumers’ expectations everywhere in the world.
Coke said recent samples at the bottling plant did meet safety standards, but it's still waiting on the results from samples taken from the batch on base.
The bottling plant is operated by Habib Gulzar Non-Alcoholic Beverages Ltd.
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