Chairman of Pepsi Foods Pvt Ltd Rajeev Bakshi on Monday said he would explore all options, including legal actions, if the Kerala Government formally notifies the ban on his soft drinks, on the ground of excess residual pesticides.
"If there is a threat to my investment, we are going to fight for our rights. If necessary, we will explore legal options", Bakshi told reporters in New Delhi.
He said Pepsi Foods has not formally received any communication from any of the state governments, which have announced bans on the aerated drinks.
"Kerala Chief Minister made the announcement (about the ban) at a press conference but we have not received any notification", the company head said. It was the state government that had invited Pepsi to set up manufacturing plant in Kerala and it offered even Sales Tax incentives.
He said despite observations by the US Undersecretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin, that the ban on Pepsi and Coke by certain state government was a setback for the Indian economy, Bakshi said Pepsi's long-term plans for India are not impacted.
"Pepsico's long term plans for India are not affected. It could have some impact for the short-term, but our long-term outlook for India has not changed", Bakshi said.
As for the actions of the Kerala government are concerned, he said the state government has to give him in writing; then only he can resort to legal action. However, the Pepsi India head ruled out taking any legal action against the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which tested the residual level of 15 particles per billion in Pepsi bottles while the EU norms for packaged drinking water are 0.5 ppb.
"At the moment, I have no such plans. Right now, public opinion is against me". He said his company would first generate awareness that his products are safe and meet international safety norms.
Bakshi said he is not against setting of standards on the finished products, but there should be standardised testing protocols. "Nowhere in the world, there are standards on finished food products, including baby food for the residual pesticides. Still, I am willing to accept it; provided the standard protocols are established", he said.
It was because of the lack of standard testing protocol that the Joint Parliamentary Committee had not recommended the norms for the final products. Bakshi said the Bureau of Indian Standards is seeking to impose the standards without validated testing protocols.
He said it took Pepsi Foods India quite some time to agree on the standards for the final products, since it required permission from the Pepsi headquarters.