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Thursday, Jan 29, 2004

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Final JPC report may suggest fresh norms for soft drinks

Ratna Bhushan

New Delhi , Jan. 28

THE much-awaited panel of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), probing allegedly the high levels of pesticide content in soft drinks, finally seems to have arrived at a decision.

While the final report of the JPC is expected to be submitted on February 4 in Parliament, according to highly-placed sources in the panel, the report has suggested to the Government a set of fresh norms for soft drinks as finished products.

Interestingly, norms have conventionally been set for water as an ingredient in soft drinks, and not for finished products.

"The JPC report has also appreciated the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) for its efforts as a whistle blower on the pesticide issue," the JPC panel sources told Business Line.

Internal meetings of the panel have been held at least twice this week.

When contacted by Business Line, representatives of both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo stated that they would be unable to comment on the subject before the report findings were actually tabled in Parliament.

The final recommendations of the JPC report are also expected to cover norms for safety standards for fruit juices and other beverages where water is the main constituent.

The JPC was set up following a huge controversy stirred by the CSE, which alleged that leading soft drink brands by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo contained high levels of pesticide residue.

Subsequently, the Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) had released a report stating that Limca, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi were three of the 12 soft drinks which were cleared for pesticide residue, following tests at a Government laboratory.

The CFTRI probe had been commissioned by the Health Ministry.

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