The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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...but materials are different

New Delhi, Aug. 7: The tests that revealed pesticides in soft drinks and the tests that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are citing to give themselves a clean chit are on different materials and not strictly comparable.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) tested bottled soft drinks picked up from the market but companies test the water that goes into making the soft drinks, said the head of a testing laboratory.

VIMTA Labs of Hyderabad said that while it has been routinely testing samples of raw water as well as treated water used to make soft drinks from both companies, Pepsi had sent only two bottles of a soft drink for analysis in March.

Dr S.P. Vasi Reddi, the managing director of VIMTA, said: “We’ve got no samples of bottled products from Coca-Cola.”

Food scientists say though water is the major constituent in soft drinks, and also the most likely source of pesticide residues, if any, the final bottled product needs to be tested.

“It’s more scientific to analyse the final product rather than just the treated water that goes into it,” said Dr K. Ramaseshan Kumar, head of food packaging technology at the Central Food Technology Research Institute, Mysore.

The government has decided to send samples of bottled soft drinks to the institute to authenticate the results claimed by the CSE.

The food processing ministry had collected random samples in May which will now be tested and a report is expected to come in next week. The ministry has been spurred into action amid growing speculation that the soft drinks could be just as contaminated as the bottled water Coke and Pepsi sells.

A ministry official said: “After the uproar over the report alleging that several major bottled water brands contained pesticide residues, the minister, .T. Shanmugam, had ordered an inquiry in May into the quality of water used in the soft drinks.”

“The report on that test is awaited and is expected by the end of next week,” the official said. “This test will settle the raging debate over the presence of pesticide residues in soft drinks,” he added.

Coke and Pepsi had expressed reservations about the CSE’s competence to carry out tests.

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