Thursday, August 10, 2006

Coke Canned in Some Indian States

The state of Kerala in southern India has banned the sale and production of Coca-Cola. The New York Times has this:

Indian State Bans Coke, Pepsi Products

NEW DELHI (AP) -- A southern Indian state on Wednesday banned the sale and production of Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and other soft drinks made by the Indian subsidiaries of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., an official said.

Four Indian states have already banned the sale of Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks at schools, colleges and government offices after a research group in New Delhi last week claimed they contained high levels of pesticide residue.

. . .

The moves likely will hurt sales of Coca Cola and PepsiCo beverages in India. The two companies account for nearly 80 percent of India's $2 billion-plus soft drinks market.

. . .

Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi insist their drinks are safe.

''For three years we have looked very hard at this and engaged the best scientific minds in the world, and all of the data and all of the science point to the fact our products in India are absolutely safe, just as they are elsewhere in the world,'' said Dick Detwiler, a spokesman for PepsiCo's international division in Purchase, N.Y.

. . .

India's Supreme Court has since asked the two companies to disclose the contents of their soft drinks. Four Indian states -- Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh -- had earlier imposed a ban on sale of Coke and Pepsi at colleges, schools and government offices. Several other states have said they are examining the issue.
Coke doesn't say the studies are inaccurate, just insists that their products are "safe." Here's a snip from Coke in India's fact sheet:
Water used in the manufacture of all Coca-Cola products undergo a rigorous multiple barrier filtration process to eliminate pesticide residues, other organic and inorganic impurities that are normally present in water. This process is endorsed by the World Heath Organization (WHO) and ensures that the water used (1) meets the specifications prescribed by the PFA, and (2) meets the BIS standard for Packaged Drinking Water viz., IS 14543:2004. The BIS standard for pesticide residues is similar to the world’s most stringent standards, viz., that of the European Union.
The American Council on Science and Health says this:
Pesticides are present in the groundwater throughout India due to overuse by farmers, and as a result, negligible levels end up in the Coke and Pepsi that is produced in India. It also ends up in everything else that the Indians drink, but that hasn't stopped the Center for Science and Environment from crying bloody murder.
Other parts of the world are less eager to jump on Coke's wagon, as in this piece from the Gulf Times:

Cola issue viewed with ‘seriousness’
Published: Tuesday, 8 August, 2006, 11:28 AM Doha Time

New Delhi: Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss yesterday said that his ministry views the contamination of soft drinks with utmost seriousness.

"The ministry of health and family welfare has taken note of the studies carried out by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) as well as its discussions in the print and electronic media on August 2. The report of the CSE is being examined," Ramadoss informed parliament.

The ministry views "the contamination of soft drinks with utmost seriousness and is committed to protecting the health of the consumers and would take all necessary steps to ensure this".

Three years after it shocked the nation with a report showing exceedingly large amounts of pesticide content in leading soft drink brands, CSE last week released its second study ‘Soft Drinks - Hard Truth II’ showing three to five immune-suppressive pesticides again in 11 brands.

A fresh survey conducted by it has found that the brands of the Coke and Pepsi family had on an average 24 times more pesticide residues than what it had found in 2003.

Curiouser and curiouser. Everyone seems to agree that there are pesticides in the product. For what it's worth (admittedly not much) Coke shares were up two tenths of a percent in pre-market trading.

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