TACOMA, Wash. (CBS Seattle) — The Coca-Cola company is apologizing to a Washington family after they found the words “YOU RETARD” printed on the inside of a Vitamin Water cap.
Blake Loates, who resides in Alberta, Canada, saw the wording on the bottle cap during dinner with her husband Tuesday.
“We were both pretty shocked,” Loates told Metro News. “The R-word is just something we don’t say in my family. My dad is quite upset and is on a rampage.”
Loates’ younger sister, 11-year-old Fiona, suffers from autism and cerebral palsy and has had 22 surgeries.
In a letter directed to Coca-Cola’s board of directors, Doug Loates, who lives in Tacoma with Fiona and her twin sister Maddi, expressed his anger as to how this word would show up in a bottle cap.
“I know you will likely blame this on some rogue employee at some distant bottling plant. Probably not even one of your employees. But you have invested billions in promoting your brand. (Heck, I’ve been drinking Coke products since I was nine and got my first paper route!) And this single action, this small word printed on the bottom of a Vitamin Water lid, discovered by my daughter in Canada, has inspired me to tell you just how much the ‘R’ word hurts. How destructive it is. How caustic. How uninformed. How isolating. Like the ‘N’ word,” Doug Loates wrote.
Blake Loates posted her father’s letter along with the “YOU RETARD” bottle cap on her Facebook page.
According to Metro News, the company was displaying one English word and one French word for a promotion. In French, the word “retard” means late or delayed, and not the derogatory term used in the English vernacular.
A Coca-Cola spokesperson said that the word was viewed in its French meaning.
“We did not mean to offend at all,” Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, told Metro News. “We are certainly very apologetic for this oversight.”
The remaining bottle caps have reportedly been destroyed.
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