Coca Cola has hit back at claims by researchers that its Fanta fizzy orange drink contains up to 300 times the levels of pesticides allowed in tap water.

The drinks giant has been forced to defend the levels of pesticide residue found in the product, which are well within the levels allowed for fruit but far higher than the maximum permitted for bottled or tap water.

Researchers in Spain had tested Coca Cola drinks from 15 countries in Europe for 100 different pesticides, with cans from the UK showing the highest levels of the chemicals.

“All of the drinks tested meet the safety regulations relating to food products made from agricultural ingredients, which include drinks with fruit juice as an ingredient,” said a spokesperson for Coca Cola.

“The generally miniscule levels that were detected were well within the acceptable daily intake levels and these findings should reassure consumers there is no safety issue here.”