Is the 1987 Consumer Protection Act Doing its Job to Counter Corporate Interests and Protect the Public?
Article publication date: 1 June 1992
A recent case of a criminal prosecution using the 1987 Consumer Protection Act Part 2 was applied to the serious eye injury of a teenager resulting from the explosive separation of a cap from a bottle of Coca‐Cola. The scientific evidence used by the Defence, who were found not guilty, is considered herein to be flawed and its value challenged. The energy and velocity of missiling caps are calculated for a range of pressure and headspace volumes. The energy of a missiling cap was shown to increase approximately linearly with pressure and/or headspace volume. Missiling velocities of up to 12 m/s are achievable on a 70 per cent vacuity and it is shown that, for a typical product pressure of 34 psig (2.31 bar), a headspace of 0.82 litres is capable of projecting a cap at sonic velocity. This raises disturbing questions, inter alia, about the wisdom of continuing to market large three‐litre packs of carbonated drinks. Headspace of carbonated drinks should be kept as low as the filling plant will allow; this reduces the ballistic energy when premature separation of the cap occurs. Applying a permanent hinge, linking the cap to the security ring, would prevent injuries from explosive separation of a cap from the neck of a bottle. Introducing a system of assessors into the legal procedures in a complex hearing is proposed, in view of the higher burden of proof required in criminal actions such as the one described.
Willhoft, T. (1992), "Is the 1987 Consumer Protection Act Doing its Job to Counter Corporate Interests and Protect the Public?", British Food Journal, Vol. 94 No. 6, pp. 29-35. https://doi.org/10.1108/00070709210015125
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