Thursday, February 05, 2004

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Soft-drink giants accused over pesticides

Coke, Pepsi, and other "Fizzy Drinks" posed Health Risk

The Guardian (UK) reports that Indian MP's have concluded that Coca Cola, and PepsiCo have sold soft drinks containing pesticides harmful to human health, in addition to misleading India's billion-plus population over claims that their products were safe for human consumption.

Their report recommended stringent new regulations for fizzy drinks which would "seek complete freedom from pesticide residues [in] aerated beverages".

An estimated seven bottles of cold drinks are sold to every Indian each year in a market worth £900m. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo account for more than 80% of the market.

The row between soft drink makers and campaigners erupted last summer when a Delhi-based environmental group, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), claimed that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products manufactured in India contained toxins far above the norms permitted in the developed world.

Tests by campaigners showed Pepsi's soft drinks had 36 times the level of pesticide residues permitted under EU regulations and Coca-Cola's had 30 times the level.

The CSE said that, in all 12 of the soft drinks it tested, toxins including lindane and DDT were found. If ingested over long periods, these chemicals could lead to cancer and failure of the immune system. Similar tests on US colas found no such residues.

MPs said yesterday that five laboratories had confirmed, but not replicated, the results on Indian colas. "We did not find exactly the same level of pesticides or the same quantities but this was because they were not exactly the same samples. For example, the batches were different, the manufacturing was different. But all contained pesticides," said Sanjay Nirupam, a member of India's upper house who sat on the joint parliamentary committee."

Mr Nirupam added: "The consumer has to be sure what they are buying is safe. You do not find US colas with pesticides, so why force us to drink pesticides?"

I agree.


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