Cola firms slam EU norms
US majors PepsiCo and Coca-Cola on Friday joined hands to caution against "blind" adoption of European norms as these could have serious implications on Indian economy, while asserting compliance with EU standards for their brand products sold in the country.
"There are no standards for pesticides in soft drinks anywhere in the US or European Union. EU norms only specify that the water used in soft drinks should be potable...we are meeting EU norms on source water in India with total pesticide levels well below the permissible 0.5ppb," PepsiCo India chairman Rajeev Bakshi said.
He said blindly adopting EU standards is an ill-conceived strategy, fraught with risk both in qualitative and quantitative terms for a developing country like India which would make 90 per cent of its groundnut crop inedible, liquid milk undrinkable and processed milk products unusable.
Taking the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to task, Bakshi said "we have sufficient doubts that CSE's report is erroneous. It has used suspect testing methods...It has created panic".
A Coca-Cola spokesperson said, "our products are of unimpeachable quality not only in India but across the world. If the government decides to bring in any new norms, we will comply with those too".
Bakshi said the lab used by CSE was neither accredited nor recognised, and could not have helped with cross references of results arrived at in a particular lab.
Expressing confidence that PepsiCo's position will be vindicated, Bakshi said motivated and malicious CSE report will be duly discredited.
Protecting the health and safety of consumers in India is a fundamental role of the government and can be responsibly discharged, without CSE intervention, he said.
PepsiCo on its part will work towards rebuilding consumer trust and confidence.
Bakshi said the recommended carrier gas under the USEPA 8141A method which the CSE claims to have followed in its tests is helium at six ml per minute but the NGO actually used nitrogen at 1.3 ml a minute.
Under the USEPA method, makeup gas recommended is helium at 20 ml per minute, while CSE used nitrogen at 25 ml/minute. The injector temperature recommended is 250 degree centigrade and detector temperature is 300 degree centigrade while the corresponding figures in CSE lab tests are 270 and 300 degree centigrade.
There are similar serious deviations on temperature programme, film thickness and column used, he said.
Pepsi on its part had got the water it uses to make soft drinks, tested at Vimta Laboratories, Hyderabad, which is accredited, recognised and open to public scrutiny. The results have been cross-referred with TNO Labs, in the Netherlands, he added.
Pepsi protocols focus on process control, testing raw water, treated water and finally the end product quality too.