A week after a Delhi-based NGO announced that soft drinks manufactured by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo contained harmful levels of pesticides, the cola war is going strong.
Taking into account the report of the Centre for Science and Environment, the Kerala government on Wednesday announced a ban on the production and sale of soft drinks manufactured by the two companies. Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, who has been fighting against the colas even in his pre-CM days, said the bottling plants in the state would be immediately closed down.
The Karnataka government followed suit, banning 11 soft drinks from within 100 m of all educational institutions and hospitals.
The moves will hit the sales of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which account for nearly 80 per cent of the soft drinks market and have a combined turnover of Rs 7,000 crore. In a week since the CSE report was publicised, sales of the colas have dipped by 10 per cent.
A statement issued by Indian Soft drink Manufacturers Association on behalf of the two companies said, "Our products manufactured in India are absolutely safe and meet every safety standard set by food health and regulatory bodies in India and all over the world."
Coca-Cola said its manufacturing process and safety-testing methods were adequate to ensure that its soft drinks complied with "all national regulations and international norms". "All our ingredients are of food-grade quality. All food additives used in our products in India have been cleared by the Central Committee for Food Safety," it said.
Coke said sugarcane, a raw material used, might have pesticide residues. But it was procured from mills that had undergone screening.