Saturday, September 21, 2013
Pardon their French? Coca-Cola recently issued an apology to a family after one member purchased a Vitaminwater with a bottle cap bearing an offensive message.
Blake Loates of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada told Metro Calgary she was shocked when she opened her beverage and read the words "YOU RETARD," written inside of the cap. The language was particularly painful to her and her family as one of Loates' younger sisters, Fiona, 11, has cerebral palsy and autism.
The cap inspired Loates' father, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., to issue a lengthy letter of complaint to Vitaminwater's parent company Coca-Cola.
"What would you do if you opened up your bottle of Vitamin Water and on the bottom of the lid it read, "YOU RETARD"?" Doug Loates wrote in his letter swearing off the beverage company for life. "Think about it. I bet you'd be pissed off if you had a Fiona in your life… Can you imagine if SHE had opened this bottle?"
The Loates family did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.
Representatives for Coca-Cola have since stated that the language inside of the cap was the product of a competition pairing one random English word with a second random French word. In French, "retard" means "late" or "delayed." The word's English connotation was missed during the review process, said a spokesperson.
"We have spoken to the family to offer our sincerest apologies and to explain the production process to them," Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, told ABC News. "This is certainly not an excuse in any way for what has occurred. We wanted them to know that this was in no way intentional and was a mistake on our part during the review process. We also wanted to share that the promotion has since been cancelled and we are no longer producing bottles with those caps."
Denny said that the company would also be posting their apology on the Vitaminwater Canada Facebook page and sharing through twitter on both @vitaminwater_ca and @cocacolaco_ca.
"It was never our intention to offend anyone with this promotion," said Denny. "This was a mistake during the review process and we are taking steps to investigate and rectify the situation. We hope that our consumers can accept our profound apologies."