| Narain: Sceptical
New Delhi, Aug. 12: Another cola giant has spoken up — and in a more conciliatory tone — but the froth is still flying.
Pepsi today offered to talk to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), whose tests found pesticide residues in soft drinks, but the NGO rebuffed the gesture.
“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with CSE… to discuss details of our methods and to gain a clearer understanding of theirs, to decide on a clear way forward in the interest of developing finished product standards for consumer safety,” Pepsi said in a statement.
Coca-Cola, the other giant at the centre of the storm, had yesterday issued a rejoinder, saying its products meet European norms.
Today, both indicated that they would be willing to consider fresh limits for residues, provided the tests are based on globally validated testing methods.
Reacting to the Pepsi statement, CSE chief Sunita Narain told PTI that the offer was a ploy to create confusion by raising the demand for “science-based” standards for finished products.
“The standards for food products have already been finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards. They just need to be implemented by the government,” she said.
Narain wondered why Pepsi wants to meet CSE representatives when the standards have already been set and agreed to by all concerned. The government has not yet notified the standards.
Another CSE official, Suparno Banerjee, said: “We have gone through these discussions with industry representatives earlier.”
In its statement, Pepsi added that the company is open to “stricter regulations in the interest of consumer safety”. It said analysis of pesticide residues in each of the ingredients that goes into soft drinks shows that they are within prescribed limits.
Coca-Cola, in response to CSE’s challenge yesterday to the company to produce results, released data from independent tests that it said confirm its soft drinks in India meet the stringent requirements set by the European Union for pesticides in bottled water.
“Our beverages provide not only great taste and refreshment, but absolute quality — every bottle, every can, every day, everywhere,” said Rick Frazier, the vice-president of technical stewardship with Coca-Cola.
“We are very comfortable supporting the Indian government’s intention to establish criteria for pesticide residues in soft drinks, based on scientifically validated testing methods,” Frazier said.