Daily News Archive
From September 5, 2006                                                                                                        

Coke and Pepsi Contamination Continues in India
(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2006) A new report on pesticide contamination of India’s Coke and Pepsi products has sparked bans of the companies’ products in several regions of the country. The issue has highlighted the widespread presence of pesticides in India and the country’s lack of national standards for many consumer items, including food products.

Since the report was released several weeks ago, seven of India’s 28 states have enacted partial or full bans on Coke and Pepsi products, and over 10,000 schools have put bans in place. The state of Kerala has implemented a full ban on both production and sale of the products – an action that has been temporarily upheld by the state’s High Court despite the national government’s attack on the study’s validity.

The report, conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), is a follow up of their 2003 study. The findings, based on 57 samples from 12 states, include:

  • A cocktail of 3-6 pesticides was present in all samples.
  • Lindane (a confirmed carcinogen) levels were over 54 times above the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) acceptable levels; in one Coca-Cola sample from Kolkata, it was 140 times higher.
  • Chlorpyrifos (a known neurotoxin) levels were 47 times higher than BIS standards; a Coca-Cola sample from Mumbai had a level 200 times higher.
  • Heptachlor, banned in India, was found in 71 per cent of the samples, at levels 4 times higher than BIS standards.
  • Average amount of pesticide residues found in all the samples was 11.85 parts per billion (ppb) — 24 times higher than the BIS standards for total pesticides in soft drinks (0.5 ppb).
  • Pepsi contained 30 times higher residues on an average.
  • Coca-Cola contained 27 times higher residues on an average.

Coke and Pepsi have remained relatively quiet on the issue despite undisclosed economic losses. A Coke spokesman says that the company is reaching out to stakeholders, including CSE. CSE is hoping for the implementation of national pesticide standards on soft drinks, something that Coke and Pepsi are believed to be pressuring India’s government to delay in order to avoid regulations.

Source: CSE, Associated Press