SINGAPORE - An SMS that began circulating last week, warning recipients against consuming PepsiCo products, has been exposed as a hoax.
The SMS warned consumers not to drink products under the PepsiCo brand, such as Pepsi, Tropicana and 7 Up, because "a worker from the company has added his blood contaminated with HIV" to the drinks.
One tell-tale sign that gave the game away: The message also listed Coca-Cola as an affected drink, although it is manufactured by a different company. When contacted, Coca-Cola Singapore said that it was alerted to the chain SMS last Thursday.
Director of public affairs and communications June Kong said in an e-mail reply to my paper: "Coca-Cola Singapore has been made aware of an SMS circulating, claiming that Coca-Cola (and PepsiCo) products have been contaminated with HIV. This SMS is a hoax.
"No Coca-Cola product has ever been contaminated with HIV."
She added that all products under the Coca-Cola Company brand undergo testing and analysis to ensure they are in compliance with local regulations and standards.
Similarly, a spokesman from PepsiCo told my paper that the SMS and any other similar posts on Facebook or Twitter are "absolutely false".
According to the website of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus does not live long outside the human body.
Even if small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen was consumed, the virus would be destroyed from exposure to air, heat and stomach acid.
The website also said that there is no risk of contracting HIV from consuming food and it has not been alerted to any such cases.
Student Lim Qi Yong, 23, who received the text message, said that he is aware that there is no immediate danger from consuming the beverages but decided not to take any chances by avoiding the drinks listed.
"It is better to be safe, and the SMS also said that the incident was reported on a television channel, so I believed it immediately," he said. He did not verify the claims but warned his friends to avoid the drinks.
There were also reports of the SMS circulating in India and Malaysia.
Coca-Cola Singapore said that consumers should call its hotline on 1800-860-4000 to verify such rumours.
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