New Delhi, Aug. 11: Breaking its silence over the controversy of pesticides in soft drinks, one cola giant today said independent studies have not revealed pesticide residues in its soft drinks when measured against EU criteria.
In an official statement, Coca-Cola said it regularly tests its products at the Central Science Laboratories (CSL), a UK government lab, and all tests show that its soft drinks are below the EU criteria for pesticide residues in bottled water.
“No detectable level of pesticides (were found) in Indian soft drinks when measured against the EU criteria,” the company said. “Coca-Cola India measures its soft drinks against the EU criteria for pesticide residues in bottled water — globally accepted as one of the most stringent in the world.”
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) immediately responded by challenging the company to back its claims by making test results public. “The company has failed to disclose any test results,” the CSE said.
“Three years ago, soft drink companies had issued similar statements… but tests by other labs had found that soft drinks did contain pesticide residues above norms,” it said.
The non-government organisation, earlier this month, had rekindled the three-year-old controversy by releasing a new study showing pesticide residues in several dozen bottles of soft drinks.
The company statement comes two days after Kerala banned the production of soft drinks and several states prohibited the sale of soft drinks around educational institutions and hospitals.
A company spokesperson said the UK laboratory had been working for many years to design testing methods to test soft drinks and its results should be respected.
Coca-Cola said it supported moves by the government to adopt clear criteria for pesticide residues in soft drinks, which are based on scientifically validated testing methods.
“We are working with relevant government bodies in India to develop and finalise the criteria along with their associated testing protocols for pesticide residues in soft drinks,” it said.
The company said it was committed to provide the same quality for products in India as elsewhere in the world. “We have the same uncompromising commitment to product safety and quality in our beverages in India that we offer around the world,” it said.
CSE said soft drink companies were trying to avoid final product standards. It has charged companies with wanting standards only on the raw agricultural commodities that go into the soft drinks and avoiding the finalising of standards for the finished products.