The Ministry of Health and Welfare has set up a four-member expert committee headed by the Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Dr N K Ganguly to fix the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides in carbonated beverages, fruit and vegetables juices and other finished products.
In a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said had to use the water that constitutes 86-92 per cent of carbonated water in soft drinks as per the Packaged Drinking Water under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, which was later amended and notified in October 2004.
Other members of the committee include toxicology expert Dr S. K. Khanna, formerly with the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow, Dr N. P. Agnihotri, pesticide expert formerly with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), and Dr G. Thyagrajan, former director, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.
The expert committee will guide the pesticide Residue Sub-Committee on technical aspects regarding fixing of MRLs, including methodology, toxicity, processing factor and health risks conforming to the internationally accepted Codex Working Principles. It will also guide how to monitor pesticides in other foodstuffs.
To ensure sugar was free of pesticide, the Health Minister had commissioned a pilot study on 200 sugar samples in September last year, which found no pesticides. Another more sensitive study is currently underway a ICMR and the results are expected early next The Health Ministry has also asked the Agriculture Ministry to give them data on all pesticides used on the sugarcane crop.
The statement said the action was based on the recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) headed Sharad Pawar that sought to free all sweetened aerated waters from pesticide residues. The JPC had also recommended water used in manufacturing the soft drinks should conform with the bottled drinking water norms notified on July 18, 2003.