Indian State Sues Coke Over Pesticide Allegations
BANGALORE, INDIA : India's southern state of Karnataka has filed a
case against US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, accusing it of selling
products with illegally high pesticide levels, a minister said on
The case was filed on Aug. 12 after state-supervised private laboratory
tests showed excessive amounts of pesticide in Coca-Cola samples,
Karnataka Health Minister R. Ashok said.
"The government will not hesitate to initiate action be it against
a multinational company or an Indian firm ... the health of our children
is very important," Ashok told reporters in Bangalore, India's high-tech
The case was the first to be filed by a state government against Coke
since a New Delhi-based environmental group said earlier this month
that tests of products made by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo showed high pesticide
The allegations have turned into a publicity nightmare for the soft-drinks
multinationals with six states, including Karnataka, imposing partial
or full or bans on their products.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which account for nearly 80 percent of India's
US$2 billion-a-year soft drinks market, have repeatedly insisted that
their drinks are safe. The companies have taken out large newspaper
ads in a bid to reassure Indians.
The minister said other brands of soft drinks sold in the state would
be tested for the presence of pesticides but did not mention Pepsi
According to the minister, the tests at the "well-equipped lab" found
that the Coke products contained levels of a pesticide called malathion
beyond permissible limits.
"It was found that Coke contained the chemical melathion to an extent
of 0.142 parts per million as against the permitted 0.1," Ashok said.
Exposure to high amounts of malathion can cause difficulties with
breathing, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and other symptoms,
The Center for Science and Environment sparked a national uproar and
drew international headlines with a study it released early this month
alleging high levels of toxic chemicals in 57 drink products taken
from 25 different Indian Coca-Cola and PepsiCo plants.
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