Pepsi selectively quoting from JPC, says CSE

Debdatta Das

New Delhi, Aug 7

In the backdrop of PepsiCo India unleashing a communication campaign on Monday assuring consumers that pesticide levels in aerated drinks wree well within the prescribed standards, the Governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have banned the sale of Coke and Pepsi in their educational institutions, Government offices and canteens.

Pepsi campaign

PepsiCo's media campaign stated, "... new regulations for carbonated drinks notified by the Health Minister on July 15, 2004 are comparable to the most stringent international regulations, including the European Union. All PepsiCo products in India meet these standards. Our products comply with the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) directive on the use of water in the preparation of soft drinks."

CSE reaction

Reacting to the Pepsi advertisement, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said in a press release, "... they are selectively quoting from the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report to mislead us. For instance, while the advertisement says that pesticides in its Diet Pepsi are `below limit', it conveniently forgets to add that the same sample exceeds the limit for DDT, a banned pesticide, by 80 per cent. It also does not show the individual pesticide content which exceeds the prescribed limits.

Based on this, the JPC report had concluded: `The Committee feels that claims made by the cola companies in their advertisement tantamount to misleading the public as their products do contain pesticides, which have ill effect on human health in the long run'.

When contacted, officials from PepsiCo refused to comment on the issue of ban on its products and the CSE's reaction to its advertisement. Coca Cola officials were unreachable for comment.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 8, 2006)
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