Pepsi, Coca-Cola issue ads denying pesticides claim
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo released advertisements in newspapers on Thursday rebutting a report by the Centre for Science and Environment about pesticides in their drinks and said that soft drinks sold in the country were safe.
The Delhi unit of Coca-Cola said soft drinks manufactured in India conformed to quality standards set for Europe and the United States and invited members of the public to visit their plants.
"There is no contamination or toxicity whatsoever in our brand of beverages," Coke said in the advertisement. It said the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Lab in the Netherlands had certified the water used in the beverages to be totally safe.
"The results are completely open for any governmental agency, regulator to inspect," the advertisement said.
PepsiCo Inc's Indian unit said in its advertisement that "the safest thing you are likely to drink today is a Pepsi".
The advertisements came after the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said on Tuesday its tests showed drinks sold by the Indian units of the US soft drink giants contained four toxic chemicals: lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos.
The New Delhi-based environment lobbying group said soft drinks in India had high pesticide residues because the soft drink and bottled water industry used an enormous amount of ground water as basic raw material.
Analysts say the report could hit Coke and Pepsi's sales in India, a huge market for the multinationals. PepsiCo and Coke executives would not comment on whether sales had dropped because of the report.
The Government told angry lawmakers on Wednesday it would investigate the CSE report. Sales of Coke and Pepsi drinks was also stopped in the premises of parliament after deputies demanded a nationwide ban.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo executives held a rare joint news conference on Tuesday, denying the soft drinks sold in India contained pesticides.
No pesticides were found in tests of Coke and Pepsi soft drink brands sold in the United States, CSE said.
Coke said it tested both the water and the finished products. "We test for traces of pesticide in ground water to the level of parts per billion. Even at these stringent miniscule levels we are well within the internationally accepted safety norms."
Millions of people in India do not have access to clean drinking water as a dramatic dip in the water table has raised contamination levels in ground water in many parts of the country.
The CSE has campaigned aggressively on green issues in the past including a successful programme for use of non-polluting compressed natural gas for public transport in the Indian capital, one of the world's most polluted.