Special Correspondent

Committee to submit report on the CSE findings: Anbumani

  • CSE analysed 57 samples of 11 soft drinks brands of Coca Cola and Pepsi Company spread over 12 States
  • `States can lift samples and take action if they find that the drinks are detrimental to the health of the people'

    NEW DELHI: Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Thursday evaded a direct reply in Rajya Sabha on whether the Central Government would ban Coca Cola and Pepsi after the latest findings that pesticide residue above permissible limits was found in samples lifted from parts of the country.

    In a suo motu statement the Minister said the Centre of Science and Environment, in their report released on August 2, had stated that this year they had analysed 57 samples of 11 soft drinks brands from 25 manufacturing plants of Coca Cola and Pepsi Company spread over 12 States and found pesticide residues beyond permissible standards in all samples.

    On being pressed by members during clarifications, whether the said cold drinks would be banned the Minister said he had set up a committee which would submit its report within two weeks on the CSE findings.

    He also said talks were being held with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to see what could be done about the advertisements for colas that were impacting the vulnerable sections of the youth and children.

    He said the Human Resource Development Ministry had sent advisories to State Governments on taking action against the aerated drinks manufacturing and bottling companies if it was found that standards were not being maintained.

    ``We are taking it seriously. Even the Health Ministry is writing to State Governments. The States can lift samples and can take action if they find that the drinks are detrimental to the health of the people. Of course, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Centre.''

    Dr Ramadoss said steps would be taken to scientifically analyse the data given by the CSE. Also samples would be lifted from the same centres that CSE had referred to in their report. ``We have to make sure that the data scientifically stands the test in legal courts and decisions are not reversed as had happened in the past.''

    He said there were three aspects to the specifications of carbonated drinks. One was the water that was used which was about 70 to 80 per cent. The second was the sugar content which was five to 10 per cent. The rest was the ``concentrate.''

    For the water, the standard was of the packaged water quality. For the sugar content, which involved processing and distillation, standards would be set by the government by early next year.

    At this Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan intervened and asked, ``what happens in the meantime? Members want to know if there would be any action.''

    Advisories to States

    Dr Ramadoss said in the meantime advisories had been sent to States to look at the short-term as well as the long-term impact on the health of the citizens as colas being consumed with junk foods.

    In reply to Congress member, V. Narayansamy's query on the ``concentrate'' in colas, Dr Ramadoss said ``concentrate'' was a formulation of the companies ``for which the onus is on them to maintain standards.''

    This was opposed by Congress and AIADMK members, who said that the companies did not reveal the contents of the ``concentrate''.

    Unless that was revealed, the entire source of pesticide contamination would not be known, they said.

    N. Jothi (AIADMK) wanted to know why the Centre was not initiating action when it was empowered under the Food Safety Act. Chandra Sekar Reddy (TDP) wanted the Centre to ensure that there was uniformity in the ban on colas throughout the country unlike the total or partial ban imposed by seven States.

    The members urged the Minister to ensure that the 2003 report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on pesticide contamination was implemented.