Coke, Pepsi Must Print Pesticide Content on Labels
6 December, 2004

New Delhi: Saying that every consumer has the right to know what he consumes, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed two petitions filed by soft drink giants, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, challenging a Rajasthan High Court order asking them to print on containers the extent of pesticide residues in their products.

While dismissing the Special Leave Petitions filed by Pepsi Foods Ltd and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (P) Ltd, a Bench comprising Chief Justice RC Lahoti, Justice DM Dharmadhikari and Justice GP Mathur allowed them to approach the High Court with a plea seeking to allow them to know the extent to which they should comply with its directive.

The apex court also suspended implementation of the High Court order by two weeks, as the counsels for the two companies - senior advocates Arun Jaitley and Harish Salve - said that the print on the containers would read as "the contents may have traces of pesticide which is well below the prescribed standard".

With the November 3 order, the High Court had directed Pespi and Coca-Cola, which account for 99 per cent of the soft drink sales, and all other carbonated beverage manufacturers to disclose the composition and contents of the products, including the presence of pesticides and chemicals, on the bottle, package or container.

The apex court said the entire anxiety of the High Court stemmed from public interest and "we do not see anything unreasonable or unconstitutional in the High Court order".

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