Dangerous Pesticides in Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India
Study Three Years Later Shows Cola Companies Have Done Nothing
to Improve Quality
For Immediate Release
August 3, 2006
Souparno Banerjee, Centre for Science and Environment (India) +91
11 29955124, +91 11 29955125 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center (US) +1 415 336 7584 E: email@example.com
San Francisco (August 3, 2006): Coca-Cola and Pepsico
carbonated drinks in India contain dangerously high levels of pesticides,
according to a new study released yesterday by the Centre for Science
and Environment (CSE), a leading public interest research and advocacy
group in India.
CSE tested 57 samples of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo carbonated products
from 25 different bottling plants across 12 states and found pesticide
residues in all samples.
The study found a "cocktail of between three to five different pesticides
in all samples" - and on an average, the pesticide residues were 24
times higher than European Union (EU) standards and those proposed
by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS), the government body responsible
for standardization and quality control.
The study found high levels of:
"This is a grave public health scandal," said Sunita Narain, director
of the Centre for Science and Environment and winner of the prestigious
2005 Stockholm Water Prize.
The latest study comes three years after CSE had found similar levels
of pesticides in Coca-Cola and Pepsico products. One of the highest
ranking bodies possible to be set up in India, the Joint Parliamentary
Committee (JPC), was convened to look into the issue of dangerous
levels of pesticides in soft drinks. In February 2004, the JPC confirmed
the unsafe levels of pesticides in soft drinks, and recommended that
the government set standards for these residues in the products. Since
then, a committee from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has convened
over 20 meetings to deliberate on the standards, and Coca-Cola, Pepsico,
consumer and environmental organizations have all been consulted.
In October 2005, the standards were finalized by the committee, and
in March 2006, the committee met again to reconfirm the standards.
The BIS has adopted the same standards as the European Union - which
stipulates a single residue limit of 0.0001 parts per million and
multiple residue limit of 0.0005 parts per million. The proposed standards,
however, have been delayed from being implemented, ostensibly to do
The Centre for Science and Environment sees it differently. "Our reason
is simple: if soft drinks contain a cocktail of pesticides above stipulated
standard, they are unsafe. The companies say there are no stipulated
standards. The reason is simple: they don't allow standards to be
formulated. The standards that needed to be set to regulate their
safety have been lost in committees or blocked by powerful interests
in the government. The soft drink companies and their industry associations
had fought tooth and nail against setting up a final product standard,"
said CSE in a prepared statement.
The Centre for Science and Environment is demanding that the government
implement the standards immediately and make the standards mandatory
for the soft drink companies.
Coca-Cola and Pepsico together control about 90% of the carbonated
beverage market in India.
The Coca-Cola company is also the target of community campaigns across
India accusing the company of creating severe water shortages and
pollution around its bottling plants. A number of studies, including
those by the government of India, have confirmed the growing water
shortages and pollution of groundwater and soil by the Coca-Cola company.
One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India, in Plachimada
in Kerala, has remained shut down since March 2004 because of community
opposition and government action.
There is also a growing campaign internationally that is applying
pressure on the Coca-Cola company to end its abuses in India. More
than ten colleges and universities in the US and UK have taken action
against the Coca-Cola company. The company was also recently ejected
from the US$ 8 billion TIAA-CREF Social Choice Account because of
the international campaign. TIAA-CREF is one of the largest financial
services companies in the United States, with over US$ 380 billion
"This is a classic case of double standards by a large multinational
company in India. They are selling sub-standard products in India
that could never be sold in Europe," said Amit Srivastava if the India
Resource Center, an international campaigning organization. "It is
Coca-Cola and Pepsico's responsibility to deliver a safe product in
India, and they have failed to do so even after being informed that
their products were toxic three years ago."
The report by the Centre for Science and Environment can be seen at
For more information on the campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable,
- Lindane - a confirmed carcinogen - sometimes as high as 140
times those allowed by EU and BIS standards
- Chlorpyrifos - a neurotoxin - sometimes as high as 200 times
those allowed by EU and BIS standards
- Heptachlor - which is banned in India and also has not been
used in the US since 1988 - was found in 71 per cent of the samples,
at levels 4 times higher than the proposed BIS standards.
- Malathion - a pesticide that the US EPA recommends that workers
wait at least 12 hours before entering the area of application
- were found in 38.6% of the samples tested.
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