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Court tells Centre to test Pepsi samples

New Delhi, Aug. 11: Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to carry out tests on soft-drink samples of Pepsi and submit its report within three weeks.

The court directive came in response to a writ petition filed by PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd challenging the findings of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that soft drinks made by Pepsi and Coca-Cola contained unacceptably high amounts of pesticide residue.

Criticising the CSE, Pepsi said the non-government organisation’s laboratory did not have the necessary accreditation and its methods and the process adopted in preparing the report were “suspect”.

The co-petitioner in the case was Pepsi bottler Pearl Drinks, which had demanded independent evaluation of the CSE report.

In Delhi High Court, Justice B.D. Ahmed asked additional solicitor-general K.K. Sud to get the samples tested in a government laboratory.

“After hearing Pepsi, the central government and the CSE, the court directed that samples of our soft drinks be analysed by expert laboratories which have the wherewithal for such analysis. The central government has also been directed to submit its report of such analysis three weeks from today,” a Pepsi spokesman said.

According to the court directive, Pepsi will place its comments on the CSE report before the laboratory where the fresh tests will be carried out, the spokesperson said.

Pepsi said it pleaded before the high court that it was in a position to satisfy the court that, prima facie, there were glaring flaws in the testing methods and protocol that the CSE had followed as compared with the European Union norms which the NGO had referred to in its August 5 report.

Pepsi said it neither changed its stand that the CSE report was highly questionable nor did it drop the charges. “Pepsi has only stated before the court that it would not press relief it has sought against the CSE in the above writ petition,” the spokesman said.

Coca-Cola India, which had moved Bombay High Court challenging Maharashtra’s confiscation of a big stock of soft drinks from its Pune plant, said the case was scheduled for hearing today but it did not have the details about what transpired. “We have so far not heard from the Mumbai high court on that writ petition,” the Coke spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the company had so far not received any directive from the Centre seeking samples of its various soft-drink brands for testing. On Coke’s next course of action, the spokesperson said: “The matter is before the government and the court now. We will just wait and watch.”

Both cola companies had earlier issued newspaper advertisements to drive home the message of the purity of their soft drinks.

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