Pepsi-CSE War Heats Up
New Delhi: Pepsi issues ads claiming its products are safe, Coke may
Breaking its silence, Pepsi today took out advertisements in newspapers
claiming that its soft drinks brands are safe. On its part, later
in the day, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) refuted the
soft drink company's claims.
To clarify the company's position, Pepsi will be issuing similar ads
in regional newspapers. Coca Cola India is also planning a similar
strategy to reach out to its consumers.
Pepsi's advertisement said the limits of pesticides allowed by the
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act under the health ministry for
tea (28,040 times), eggs (11,560 times), rice (34,180 times), apples
(30,200 times) and milk products (6,560 times) was much higher than
the permitted levels in soft drinks and that pesticide levels in soft
drinks were negligible. CSE has reiterated its stand that soft-drinks
are unsafe as they contain pesticide residues way above the standards.
While Pepsi and Coke declined to comment, industry sources said the
day CSE came out with the report, the two companies' sales had fallen
by 19-20 per cent. They also said sales had recovered since then.
Coca Cola India was also carefully considering how to use the television
and radio to present such hard facts, the source added.
CSE however, said the data and information in the advertisement campaigns
were misleading and not complete.
“The data they put out in their defence is from the 2004 Joint Parliamentary
Committee (JPC). But they are selectively quoting from the JPC report
to mislead us,” CSE said in a statement.
Both the cola companies however, want to play down the ban imposed
by various state governments on sale of colas in schools and the proposed
move by the Kerala government to ban colas in the entire state.
Meanwhile, the government today came out with a strong rebuttal to
CSE's allegations that the ministry of health and family welfare had
been delaying and obstructing the standard setting procedure.
Health Minister A Ramadoss told the Parliament, in a written statement,
that the government was treating the issue of pesticides in soft drinks
with utmost seriousness and would take all necessary steps.
The minister also informed Parliament that committees had been set
up to aid to fix the maximum residue limits in carbonated beverages,
fruits and vegetable fruits.
It has also requested the ministry of agriculture to provide residue
data of all pesticides for use on sugarcane and streamlined the process
of fixation of MRLs.
The ministry has also commissioned a pilot study of 200 sugar samples
which had not found pesticide residues in the samples collected and
tested. The data is currently under review.
“It was decided to undertake a comprehensive multi centre study using
LC-MS-MS which is the most sophisticated equipment to detect even
the slightest traces of pesticides,” added the minister.
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