Bottlers Ltd
High Court
Joseph Onguto
Mark Ndumia Ndung’u
Nairobi
Parklands Sports Club

Coca-Cola bottler appeals nutrition info display order

In a filed appeal, Nairobi Bottlers Ltd wants the January 30 judgment issued by the late Justice Joseph Onguto, who died on March 1 after collapsing at Parklands Sports Club, to be set aside.

According to Nairobi Bottlers, the judge erred because he allegedly elevated an unwarranted exercise to the status of a constitutional violation

The late Justice Onguto argued that Coca-Cola bottlers were discriminatory by placing nutritional information on sodas packaged in plastic bottles and not glass containers — which are cheaper.

“The learned judge misdirected himself in law and fact by creating a category of discrimination based on information provided to the consumer contrary to the provisions of the Constitution,” the firm said.

The firm argued that when both plastic and glass bottled drinks are available to consumers and the choice of one over the other is up to the client.

The firm also argued that the judge wrongly interpreted the right to equality and failed to take into consideration the principle that not every differentiation amounts to discrimination. The dispute was first taken to the High Court in 2015 by Mark Ndumia Ndung’u.

He accused Coca-Cola company together with Nairobi Bottlers of discriminating against consumers of glass bottled drinks since they do not have nutritional information, email address and storage directions as compared to the ones stored in plastics.

Mr Ndung’u had told the High Court that nutritional information was critical to consumers in exercising a healthy drinking habit with the right amounts of calories which is critical in avoiding lifestyle diseases such as obesity.

He had argued that all consumers are equally entitled to access the information on the labels and as such, there was no justification for the information not being available on glass bottles.

He had faulted the fact that the size of plastic and glass bottles was equal but instead of giving the said information in both, the soft drink maker was using the available space for brand names in big print.

But Nairobi Bottlers had argued that there was no legal obligation on a manufacturer, packer or distributor of soft drinks to display nutritional information and email address on the label of its products.

However, the late judge ruled that the exclusion of the disputed information amounted to discrimination hence directed Coca-Cola to ensure that the data is displayed on glass bottled soft drinks.

Whilst the judge also ruled that the matter involved great public interest, Nairobi bottlers now want that decision to be dismissed with costs to be borne by Mr Ndung’u.

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