An Indian judge today ordered the government to test samples of Pepsi after the company challenged accusations that it is selling drinks in India containing dangerous levels of pesticide residue.
Judge BD Ahmed said samples of locally made Pepsi drinks would be tested in a government laboratory and findings made within three weeks.
The ruling came in response to a petition filed by PepsiCo’s Indian arm, which requested an independent evaluation of accusations by the Centre for Science and Environment, an independent research group.
PepsiCo had asked the court to stop the centre from publishing the report and remove it from its website.
The independent research group’s report, released last week, claimed that pesticide levels in some samples of Pepsi drinks were respectively 36 and 30 times higher than European Union safety standards.
Both companies rejected the claims and the Indian government has already said it will conduct tests.
The environmental centre says the contamination comes from polluted ground water and has acknowledged that local Indian soft drink brands also have high pesticide levels for the same reason.
It said, however, that it had focused its campaign on Pepsi because cola accounts for more than 75% of the bottled soft drinks consumed in India.
The toxins could, if consumed over a long period, cause cancer, damage to the nervous system, birth defects and disruption of the immune system, the research centre said.
MPs have banned the products from the Parliament building in New Delhi.
Two communist rebel groups have issued statements threatening to attack anyone transporting, selling or drinking Pepsi products in the eastern states of Bihar and Jharkhand, their strongholds.