Government lab finds pesticides in Pepsi, Coke

Friday, 29 August 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: A government laboratory Thursday disclosed that some samples of popular soft drink brands made by Pepsi and Coca-Cola contained higher than permissible levels of pesticides.

The report of the Central Food and Technology Research Institute said some samples of Pepsi and Coca-Cola drinks contained higher than permissible levels of pesticides like lindane under European Union norms.

In samples of soft drinks tested by the laboratory, the presence of lindane was higher by 1.1 to 1.4 times than European norms. Another pesticide, chlorpyriphos, too was present in all the samples tested.

The findings came nearly a week after Health Minister Sushma Swaraj admitted that some of the 12 soft drinks brands of Coca-Cola and Pepsi contained a cocktail of pesticide residues.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) rattled the $1.2 billion soft drinks market earlier this month by claiming that pesticides found in Coca-Cola and Pepsi products could cause cancer and damage to the nervous system.

The CSE report caused widespread outrage as millions of Indians reacted strongly to its revelations that the soft drinks contained pesticides in quantities that could endanger health severely.

Coke and Pepsi were banned from Parliament and many official institutions, as Indians turned to other thirst quenchers, causing a dent in their sales.

A fortnight after the publication of CSE's findings, Swaraj told the Lok Sabha that the 12 samples did not have pesticide residues of the high order as was alleged.

Enthused by the clean chit, U.S. multinationals Coca-Cola and Pepsi were planning to embark on an aggressive marketing drive to win back customer trust.

New Delhi-based CSE Thursday welcomed the publication of the government laboratory's findings on pesticides residues in soft drinks.

"CSE believes that the doubts and confusion about the methodology and results would have been instantly clarified had this report been tabled the very same day that the (health) minister chose to address the Parliament," the green group said.

"In the Parliament, the government had announced results from the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata. But it has chosen to still not release (the Central Food and Technology Research Institute's report)," it said in a statement.

"CSE requests the health ministry to expedite the release of this second report because its veracity and authenticity is in doubt."

Source: IANS
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