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India Court Orders Coke, Pepsi To Print Consumer Warning

Associated Press | 12/07/04

NEW DELHI — Coca Cola and Pepsi sold in India must carry a consumer warning after the nation's Supreme Court said tests of the soft drinks bottled locally turned up high levels of pesticides, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The court gave the Indian units of Coca-Cola and Pepsico a two-week deadline to come up with acceptable language for the warning labels, which will be displayed on the sides of cans and bottles across the country, the Indian Express newspaper said.

Last year, a New Delhi-based activist group, the Center for Science and Environment, claimed that pesticide residue levels in randomly selected Coke and Pepsi bottles were 30 to 36 times higher than norms set by the European Union because of the use of contaminated ground water.

The companies challenged the findings in court and a judge ordered tests.

Later, India's health minister announced the results of the court-ordered tests that showed nine out of 12 soft drinks produced by the Coca-Cola and Pepsico operators in India didn't meet European Union safety standards for pesticide residue, but were considered safe under local standards.

The newspaper reported that both companies pleaded against a court order requiring them to display a breakdown of all their ingredients - a particularly sensitive issue for Coca-Cola, which has zealously guarded its secret formula, and once pulled its soft drinks from India after a government in the 1970s ordered the company to reveal its recipe.

In statements issued by Coca-Cola India and Pepsico India, both companies said their products were safe and complied with all statutory requirements.

Pepsi said, "Our products conform to the highest international standards that ensure consumer safety."

Coca-Cola India said, "We follow one quality system across the world."

"The treated water used to make our beverages across all our plants in the country already meets the highest international standards, including EU," the company said.

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