PepsiCo ready for independent testing of pesticide residue

Special Correspondent

Calls for formulating testing protocol for finished products

'World over pesticide residue was detected at source'There is no pesticide residue norm globally for finished products

CHENNAI: PepsiCo India, on Friday, said that it was ready for testing of all three major ingredients in its soft drink water, sugar and flavour separately for pesticide residue by independent institutions.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, Rajeev Bakshi, Chairman, PepsiCo India, asserted that the aggregate pesticide residue in the finished product after conducting separate tests on these ingredients would be below the prescribed European Union water norm of 0.5 particle per billion.

Mr. Bakshi said he was throwing this open challenge to clear the name of PepsiCo in the wake of the controversy generated by the findings of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which had alleged higher levels of pesticide in the soft drink produced by the multinational company. He claimed that world over pesticide residue was detected at source (ingredient) level.

Mr. Bakshi also pointed out that there was no pesticide residue norm globally for finished products. Given this, he called for putting in place a validated testing protocol for finished products. 'Any standard is acceptable for us. But no testing method is available in the world now that tests the pesticide residue in finished products,'' he added. Until the development of a testing protocol for finished products, the current standard (EU water norm) should be followed, he said. To a question on the content of nutrients in the soft drink, the Chairman said the cola was positioned as a 'fun drink' and not a health drink. In this context, he pointed to the screening of assorted kinds of films shown in theatres. The filmgoer had the option to watch what he wanted, he added.

Mr. Bakshi said PepsiCo discouraged its sales personnel getting into schools. He asserted that PepsiCo never targeted school children for sale of its drinks. He said the Kerala Government had banned the Pepsi Cola brand in the State. He indicated that the company would legally challenge this ban. To a question, he admitted that, 'our investment in Kerala is at a risk.' Since it found CSE's allegations unfair and untrue, would PepsiCo take it to court? Mr. Bakshi would not give a categorical reply.

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