Kerala Government May Ban Coke, Pepsi
Business Standard
August 7, 2006

New Delhi: The government of Kerala is likely to impose a ban on the sale of all soft drinks selling under Pepsi and Coca-Cola brands in the state.

This follows a recommendation of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) to this effect. Kerala consumes about 5-7 per cent of the 500 million cases of cola sold in the country.

Meanwhile, the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat today banned the sale of Pepsi and Coca Cola in government offices and educational institutions.

“We will ban sale of colas in canteens at government offices and educational institutes,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told reporters, adding that an order in this regard would be issued soon. The state government had last week banned sale of Pepsi and Coca Cola in the state Assembly canteen.

In Ahmedabad, Gujarat Education Minister Anandiben Patel said, “We have decided to stop sale of Coke, Pepsi, and other aerated soft drinks in all 400 government-run colleges, most of which are in the urban areas of the state.” The ban will come into effect tomorrow.

The Supreme Court had last week issued notices to both Pepsi and Coca Cola on a petition seeking a disclosure by the cola companies on the ingredients and chemical composition of their products. The apex court asked the companies to file replies within four weeks.

The health ministry also wants state governments to collect samples of various cola brands for testing.

According to Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, acting on a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report, the Centre had asked state governments to collect samples of different cola brands for testing.

“We already have standards on the quality of soft drinks. The onus of ensuring that soft drinks are pesticide-free is on the manufacturers,” he said.

According to the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) second study — Soft Drinks, Hard Truths II — released last week, five pesticides were found in cola samples collected from across the country, as compared to four in 2003.

Pepsi, with the highest pesticide content as per the study, had 30 times higher pesticide residues on an average, while Coca Cola had 27 times higher residues.

On their part, the soft drink companies, under the aegis of Soft Drink Manufacturers’ Association (ISDMA), said soft drinks in India complied with stringent international norms, and all applicable national regulations.

The credibility of the CSE’s testing laboratories has been challenged by the laboratory that conducts regular tests for the cola firms.

However, the NGO has stuck by its findings. While there was no official comment from either PepsiCo or Coca Cola, R K Khandal, the director of Sri Ram Labs, said the CSE laboratory did not have an NABL accreditation, “a must” for any centre conducting tests related to food safety and health standards in India.

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