Health Ministry Seeks 'Unconditional Apology' from Pepsi
Financial Express
August 25, 2003

Soft drink major Pepsico will apologise to the health ministry for its advertisement of August 22 which according to the ministry 'used the name of the health and family welfare minister Sushma Swaraj to endorse its product'.

Taking serious note of the "misleading" advertisement, the ministry, on Monday, sought "unconditional apology" from the company and also asked the company to withdraw the advertisement.

"We meant no offence with our advertisement. The directions of the health ministry are being complied with," A Pepsi statement said in response to the health ministrys directions. The said ad, meanwhile, was carried only on August 22.

Questioning motives behind the advertisement, Deepak Gupta, joint secretary in the ministry said, "your advertisement is misleading as only a part of one sentence given in the statement of the minister before the Lok Sabha has been used in the advertisement. It is obvious that the remaining part of the sentence has been wilfully concealed with questionable motives."

Stating that the minister's statement noted that pesticide residues had been found in all the samples tested, and in nine of these samples the pesticides residues were found to be above the prescribed EU norms, he said, "thus your claim that your product is conforming to EU norms is not true".

"Using the minister's name for promoting sale of your product is extremely unethical and also violative of established norms of advertisements," he said seeking withdrawal of the advertisement and an unconditional apology from the company. "This is without prejudice to any further action which the government may propose to take in this matter," he warned.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola India, on Monday, got another reprieve when the Mumbai High Court set aside an order by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration prohibiting sale of a particular batch of products from the Pune plant of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd.

The High Court issued the order after receiving the test reports of seven samples belonging to four brands - Coke, Limca, Thums Up and Sprite - wherein all the samples tested had pesticide residue even below the European standards. "This vindicates our position that our products are absolutely safe and world-class," a CCI statement said.

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