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Cola firms seek experts' report
BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi |
August 09, 2003 09:14 IST
Aerated soft drink maker Pepsico on Friday filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court seeking an independent evaluation of a "damaging" report by the Centre for Science and Environment that claimed that soft drinks made by Pepsi and Coca-Cola were found to contain harmful pesticides in excess of the permissible limits.
The company said the government refer the issue to an experts' committee to determine the CSE report's veracity and the mode in which it was prepared.
The petitioners -- Pepsico India Holdings Ltd, its bottler Pearl Drinks and its director CK Jaipuria -- also sought that the CSE should be restrained from publishing the report any further including on its website.
The petitioners have named the Union ministries of health, defence and food processing as respondents, apart from the Bureau of Indian Standards, CSE and its director Sunita Narayan.
They have requested the high court to ask the government not to act on the basis of the CSE report, which alleged the presence of pesticides in the company's aerated drink brands above the permissible levels, when compared to the same products in European countries.
The petitioners have requested the court to "pass an ex-parte interim order" directing the respondents "not to act upon the report dated August 5, 2003 titled 'Analysis of pesticide residue in soft drinks' in any manner."
Pepsico also urged the court to restrain the CSE and Narayan from publishing "any unsubstantiated statements or materials against PepsiCo and to forthwith withdraw all such material from circulation and from its website."
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola, the other soft drinks company named in the report, also filed a case in the Bombay high court on Friday.
Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd challenged the Maharashtra government's action of confiscating stocks of packed aerated drinks from its Pune plant, following the report of alleged pesticide contents and also questioned an official notice prohibiting sale and distribution of the seized goods.
The petition, filed by the company, came up for hearing before a Bench headed by Chief Justice CK Thakker, which asked the state government to file a response by August 11.
According to Hindustan Coca-Cola, the officer who seized the stock did not have the powers to do so or to order a ban on the sale and distribution of the seized stock, while the state government justified it saying such powers were derived under Section 10(1)(c) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
On August 6, MS Kembalkar, food inspector in Pune, raided a Coca-Cola plant at Pirangot village in Pune district, and seized bottles and cans of ThumpsUp, Coke, Sprite and Limca worth Rs 66.70 lakh (Rs 6.7 million).
He also issued a notice on the same day prohibiting the company from selling and disposing off the stock. The officer also obtained samples from the stock and sent it to the state public health laboratory for tests. The reports are awaited.