Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pesticide traces allegedly found

in Pepsi and Coke

The Indian drinks market is highly attractive, being the largest in the world for western-style drinks and growing annually for wines. in 2004, the EU exported over E23 million of spirits to India and E4 million of wines.

Pesticide traces allegedly found in Pepsi and Coke

An environmental group has said that bottles of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. soft drinks in India still contained traces of pesticide, highlighting weak food safety laws in the country.

"If soft drinks are the choice of millions, the least that can be done is that these drinks are regulated," said Sunita Narain, director of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), at a news conference.

AS a result, the Indian Supreme Court has now ordered the companies to reveal their secret ingredients, despite the government and health minister Anbumani Ramadoss rejecting the claims made by the CSE following tests on samples by state-run laboratories.

Despite this, environmental activists said they would block sales and distribution of the soft drinks for five(5) days from November 21 in a 'Quit India' campaign.

Around 25% of Indian states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala have already partially or completely banned sales of the soft drinks. The southern state of Karnataka, for example, has banned them from schools, colleges and hospitals, and a 100 feet (30 metres) radius around such public buildings. That includes the vending machines.

A 2003 study by CSE briefly dented the companies' sales when it said it found levels of pesticide in the companies' soft drinks in excess of international standards.

That study was endorsed by India's parliament though the soft drink majors said at the time the drinks were safe to consume and they have repeated their stand.

But despite government vows of introducing legal limits for toxins in soft drinks, not enough had been done since 2003, CSE said.

The group called upon consumers to avoid drinking Coke and Pepsi and other soft drink brands produced by the two United States (US) firms until they cleaned up the product.

However, the Indian Soft Drink Manufacturers Association, of which PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are members, said the soft drinks were safe to consume.

"The soft drinks manufactured in India comply with stringent international norms and all applicable national regulations," the industry body said in a statement.

The CSE said that pesticides are also present in other foods and drinks routinely consumed by Indians.

The two companies involved have also taken out newspaper adverts to state that pesticide levels in their products are below permissible levels and way below levels detected in other food products such as tea, eggs, grains, fruit and dairy produce.

The new study found three to five different pesticides in 57 samples of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo drinks produced in 12 Indian states, CES said.

The average amount of pesticide residues found in the sampled was 11.85 parts per billion (ppb), 24 times higher than the permitted limit of 0.5 ppb recently drafted - but not yet implemented - by the Bureau of Indian Standards, a government agency that sets safety and hygiene standards for commercial products.

At present, bottled water in India has a pesticide standard, but not soft drinks.

In some cases, the levels were up to 200 times the limit. The study in 2003 found pesticide residues on average 34 times higher than the 0.5 ppb limit.

However, due to the large number of pesticides used in Indian farming which leach into the water system, such findings are not surprising, analysts said.

Meanwhile, Pepsi has appointed its first-ever female Chief Executive Officer, 50-year-old Indian-born Indra Nooyi, who will take up the position in October from retiring CEO Steve Reinemund.

@September 2006 , AgraFood Asia.

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