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Expert Panel Sets Limits on Pesticide Residues in Soft Drinks

An expert panel has recommended a maximum residue limit (MRL) of one part per billion in soft drinks.//

In its report the panel has suggested that the limit should be enforced through legislation in order to ensure consumer safety.

The panel is headed by the chairman of the Indian Council of Medical Research N K Ganguly. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare constituted it in November 2004, in the wake of a controversy over pesticide residues in colas.

The Indian Center for Science and Environment (CSE) had published a report claiming that its findings revealed high levels of pesticides in Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The levels were 24 times higher than allowed by the European Union (EU) standards. Both companies have strongly disputed the report.

The Ganguly panel’s report has been submitted to the Indian Supreme Court, which is hearing the issue of pesticides in colas.

Stating that its report was in line with the recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the matter, the expert panel warned that higher consumption of colas could lead to numerous ailments including weakening of bones, formation of kidney stones, osteoporosis and childhood obesity.

In a related development the Supreme Court has refused to grant any interim relief to the Kerala government, which had challenged the Kerala High Court's ruling against the ban imposed on sale of Pepsi and Coca-Cola in the state. However, the Court issued notices to Pepsico India Holdings Ltd and Hindustan Coca-Cola Pvt Ltd and asked them to file replies in four weeks.

The Kerala government had in August 2006 notified the ban on the colas but within a month the Kerala High Court set aside the ban, saying it had no right to prohibit manufacture and sale of colas.

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