The Kerala government has issued a notice to PepsiCo to stop production of colas. The notice, however, does not mention any of the other drinks that PepsiCo produces, reports CNBC-TV18.
And for the first time since the pesticide in cola controversy broke out earlier this month, PepsiCo India chairman Rajeev Bakshi has made a declaration that his company's products are as safe as anywhere in the world.
Earlier this month, the Centre for Science and Environment published a study indicting the Coca Cola company and PepsiCo for selling products that, it claimed, has pesticide traces above the limits fixed in the draft BIS standards.
But PepsiCo India's chief says that the total pesticide content in each of the ingredients if totalled, will not exceed the limit set by the draft norms.
"I can say with confidence and conviction that colas in India are as safe as anywhere else in the world," said Rajeev Bakshi, chairman, PepsiCo India.
From its headquarters in Atlanta, the Coca-cola Company has released a study, which shows less than one part per billion for any pesticide, making its products absolutely safe.
It, along with Pepsi, say they will support the government's move to set criteria for pesticide residues in soft drinks. But they want a testing protocol to be devised as well. Such a protocol will have to be developed. Pepsi India's chief says this is not a ploy to stall notification of the BIS norms.
"We are in no way interested in blocking this particular movement, but we need to ensure that the testing protocol is absolutely validated by series of labs in the world and in India," said Rajeev Bakshi.
The CSE study is flawed because it applies measures to soft drinks against norms that are not yet the standard. It also applies the European Union's norms for bottled water to soft drinks. But it has certainly forced the cola majors to raise the bar for safety.
Unlike ingredients, it is difficult, though not impossible, to fix standards for final products like colas because there is no single recipe, and what goes into them varies from one company to another. The cola companies also want a standard testing process that everyone, including the health inspectors can follow because the penalty for flouting the adulteration law is pretty stiff.
But the pesticide controversy has detracted from the core issue, which is that it is not the cancer-causing contaminants, but the obesity-inducing active ingredient, sugar, which is the health hazard.