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Bottle Measure Challenged : Borden Division to Pay $120,000 in Weights Case

December 01, 1987|JOHN TIGHE | Times Staff Writer

If that tropical drink seems more pina than colada, better check the coco .

Coco Lopez, a division of Borden Inc., has been accused by the Orange County district attorney's office of selling coconut syrup--often used in making pina coladas --that was as much as two-fifths of an ounce shy of the 13 ounces stated on labels.

As a result, the Bayamon, Puerto Rico-based mixer-maker will pay $120,000 in civil penalties and costs in an agreement reached with the district attorney's office, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. John L. Flynn III.

Flynn said Coco Lopez did not admit wrongdoing in consenting to the judgment, which orders the company to begin an improved quality control program within 60 days. In addition, the company is prohibited from selling products in California at less than advertised weight.

A statistical sampling of 17,000 bottles by the Orange County Office of Weights and Measures as early as August, 1986, showed that a significant number of bottles were below the label's advertised quantity. Samples from about 1,000 bottles in Los Angeles County produced similar findings.

Weights and measures officials notified Coco Lopez in October, 1986, that products were coming up one-eighth to two-fifths of an ounce short. But weights and measures offices in Southern California continued finding short-weighted products as late as Jan. 15 of this year, Flynn said.

An attorney for Coco Lopez declined to discuss the agreement Monday, and officials at Borden said they were not able to comment.

The non-alcoholic, 13-ounce Coca Lopez coconut cream syrup is sold at many Southland supermarkets and liquor stores and ranges in price from $1.59 to $2.19.

Don Watt, night manager of a Liquor Barn retail store in Irvine, said his store has stopped ordering Coco Lopez in recent months because other products are less expensive.

"The customer is concerned about price," Watt said.

Flynn said he hopes that the agreement with Coco Lopez is seen by other companies as a signal that laws against short-weighting products are being enforced.

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