India's Gujarat Bans Coke, Pepsi from Schools
AHMEDABAD, India - Officials in Gujarat have banned fizzy drinks from
hundreds of state school and college canteens after a pressure group
said it had found pesticides in those produced by the Indian arms
of Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
"We do not want to sell these drinks in educational institutions until
we are sure about the content," the state's education minister, Anandiben
Patel, told Reuters.
The ban will apply to about 300 colleges and 600 schools.
A study released last week by the Delhi-based Center for Science and
Environment found an average pesticide residue of 11.85 parts per
billion in 57 samples of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo drinks produced in
12 Indian states.
This is about 24 times higher than limits agreed, but not yet enforced,
by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
A similar study in 2003 by the same organization briefly dented sales
of the two companies' drinks when it reported levels of pesticide
in excess of international standards, highlighting weak food safety
laws in the country.
Both companies, in a statement issued on Wednesday by the Indian Soft
Drink Manufacturers' Association, said their drinks were safe and
they held consumer safety paramount.
The CSE said pesticide levels were not necessarily any higher in cola
than in other foods and drinks routinely consumed by Indians. The
difference is that soft drinks do not have enough nutritional value
to make consuming trace amounts of pesticide worth the trade-off,
Rajasthan banned Coke and Pepsi drinks from all the state's educational
institutions following the study's release.
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