We want a clean coke or NO coke

On 2nd August, 2006, CSE(Center for Science and Environment) released nationwide study on pesticide contents in soft drinks across India. The comprehensive study covering 12 states found dangerous levels of pesticides in all samples of soft drinks tested. Pepsi and Coke accounts for around 80% of Indian soft drinks market.
The 2006 CSE study tests 57 samples of 11 soft drink brands, from 25 different manufacturing plants of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, spread over 12 states. The study finds pesticide residues in all samples; it finds a cocktail of 3-5 different pesticides in all samples — on an average 24 times higher than BIS norms, which have been finalised but not yet notified. The levels in some samples — for instance, Coca-Cola bought in Kolkata — exceeded the BIS standards by 140 times for the deadly pesticide Lindane. Similarly, a Coca-Cola sample manufactured in Thane contained the neurotoxin Chlorpyrifos, 200 times the standard. “This is clearly unacceptable as we know that pesticides are tiny toxins and impact our bodies over time,” says Sunita Narain, director, CSE

Read the full CSE Lab Report(pdf) or read this presentation that gives complete picture of this issue right from the beginnings in Aug, 2003. Here is a graphical representation of the pesticides content in the samples. The green line at the bottom, dampened by the overpowered towers of pesticides is the acceptable level.

Colas Lab Report

Then what happened? :

  • After the report was published, so far six states have completely banned colas (Coke and Pepsi).

  • Many state governments ordered the ban of these soft drinks in Government offices, schools and areas surrounding schools.

  • Uproar by NGOs and Communities to ban colas completely till they prove clean.


What Coke and Pepsi are saying:

  • As usual, they are finding faults at the methodology used by CSE, which is the United States Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) methodology.

  • They blatantly claim that their colas are safe.

  • Those limits are not yet LAW in India. So they don't have to comply as per LAW.

  • They have not decided yet whether to comply with the Supreme court order to reveal ingredients in 6 weeks.

  • Claiming that "The Coke you drink in India would be as clean as the Coke you get in Paris"

  • They have published prominent newspaper advertisements saying pesticide levels in their products are well below levels detected in other foodstuffs such as tea, eggs, grains, fruits and dairy products.

  • They see it as a communist oppression of western businesses as it happened in the past.


What US Government & Business Leaders are saying:

  • Indian Business leaders are worried that this can affect foreign investments, as it might be seen as 'against' western business outfits.

  • CII, Kiran Pasricha, the US head of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).  'I see it as local politics in the Indian context. Investors have to see the bigger picture. We hope that better sense will prevail,' she said.

  • 'This kind of action is a setback for the Indian economy,' Undersecretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin told Agence France-Presse.


I believe the pesticide content is mainly due to the water used in the bottling plants. Not because of the recipe of the colas. So all other food products and bottled water will contain similar levels of pesticides in them. Colas are widely used soft drinks than other forms. So whether other products have or not have pesticides, colas have to sell cleaner products.

  • Cola companies, if you are clean,  prove it. We don't want to read/hear your crappy press releases. Enough crap already. We want a clean coke or NO coke. Prove it if you are clean.

  • Also, CSE must prove that the water being used in the plants does not contain any pesticides. That will clearly close out on issue with cola's recipes.

  • CSE must continue with similar tests on bottled water, if the water is contaminated in the first place.


Indian business outfits and organizations must put health of Indian community first before their business obligations, and stop speaking crap and creating unnecessary tensions among the investors. I know it is asking for a lot from greedy business men, but hey, you have a business interest too. So do what is good for your business. Bring the colas clean. Give a clean cola or shut down the colas and show that you are committed to public safety. That would attract a hell lot of investors.

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