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SC quashes action against Pepsi over pesticide content

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Company argued it was following globally accepted norms.

The Supreme Court today quashed the prosecution of soft drink giant PepsiCo by the Kerala government over the pesticide content found in its bottles picked at random from the market.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Altamash Kabir set aside the criminal proceedings, mainly accepting the argument of the company that there was no law or standard governing pesticide adulteration in cold drinks. The company had argued that it was following universally accepted norms with regard to pesticide residue in food articles. Neither the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, nor the rules under it dealt with pesticide residue, it said.

On the other hand, the state government relied on a report of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based NGO which had conducted a study regarding the presence of different pesticides in Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola. It had found residues of Organochlorine pesticides in the samples. According to the tests conducted by the Pollution Monitoring Laboratory of CSE, all the samples contained residues of four extremely toxic pesticides and insecticides: lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos.

According to test results, the groundwater used for making soft drinks had levels of pesticide residues, which far exceeded the maximum residue limit for pesticides in water used as 'food', set down by the European Economic Commission. In all PepsiCo brands, the total pesticides on average were 0.0180 mg/litre, 36 times higher than the EEC limit of total pesticides at 0.0005 mg/l.

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First Published: Fri, November 19 2010. 00:37 IST