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Croatia recommends people drink tap water and withdraws some bottled drinks after several fall ill

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Authorities in Croatia on Wednesday recommended people drink only tap water as they investigated reports of several cases of people getting sick and suffering injuries allegedly after consuming bottled beverages.

Health Minister Vili Beros said several people have sought medical help for “injuries inflicted by suspected chemical elements.” Most have had mild symptoms and will be released home, he said.

Health authorities ordered the “suspected” products pulled out from shops, restaurants and elsewhere. They did not say which products were being withdrawn, but photos on social media from shops suggested they were Coca-Cola brands.

Coca-Cola in Croatia later said it is “temporarily” withdrawing some of its products “although our internal analysis has not shown irregularities in the production or in the products.”

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“Preliminary we can say that two (cases) were directly linked to the consuming of certain drinks while we are yet to determine the rest,” Beros said. “There is no need for panic but there is for caution.”

The Coca-Cola Co. in Croatia offered full cooperation in a statement. It said it had conducted an internal investigation that “showed no discrepancies in our production,” while also sending samples for analysis.

Police and the state prosecutor’s office were investigating. “Until then, it is our general recommendation to drink water from the water system, which should be safe,” Beros said.

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Reports of alleged poisoning emerged after a man was hospitalized over the weekend in the northern Adriatic port of Rijeka after drinking fizzy bottled water in a cafe. On Tuesday, a university student was hurt after reportedly drinking Coca-Cola.

Both incidents were linked to drinks of the Coca-Cola company. The man in Rijeka had reportedly consumed Romerquelle Emotion Blueberry Pomegranate from a glass bottle, while the student in Zagreb was said to have drunk Coca-Cola from a plastic bottle he took from a machine at his faculty.

Another similar case had been previously reported in May.

A hospital in Rijeka on Tuesday said the man was treated for chemical injuries to the esophagus.

“Those are probably some corrosive matters and we need to see if there are any added elements in the drink,” said Krunoslav Capak, the head of Croatia’s Public Health Institute.