Cola issue: Centre awaiting test results

VELLORE Aug.10 . In the wake of recent findings that the samples of soft drinks manufactured by Pepsico India Holdings and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages contained pesticide residues, the four regional offices of the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have collected samples of the soft drinks manufactured by these companies in their regions and sent them to the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, N.T. Shanmugam, Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, has said.

Mr. Shanmugam told newspersons here today that the Central Government was awaiting the results from the institute. The Ministry had given the Food Process Order licences to the companies and necessary action would be taken based on the results — the licences could either be suspended or cancelled if the complaints were found to be true. The CFTRI had been asked to furnish the results expeditiously in view of the raging controversy over the matter, he said.

Mr. Shanmugam said that initially the Ministry received complaints only about the presence of pesticide residues in bottled-drinking water, following which about 10 days ago the regional offices were asked to test samples of the water.

Asked about the allegations on the non-existence of standards for soft drinks made by MNCs in India, Mr. Shanmugam said his Ministry had requested the Union Health Ministry to fix standards for ensuring the quality of the drinking water that was added to the soft drinks made by MNCs in India.

On allegations that the MNCs followed different standards, he said the Centre would take steps to make the companies adopt the same stringent norms they followed in the West.