COCHIN, India - The High Court in the southern Indian state of Kerala on Friday temporarily upheld a ban on production of soft drinks by the Indian subsidiaries of Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.
A soft drinks vendor sits behind Pepsi soft drinks arranged in a pushcart in a New Delhi, India file photo from Aug. 6, 2003. Several Indian states on insisted they would continue to ban the sale of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo soft drinks even though the federal Health Ministry dismissed allegations that the beverages contained pesticide residues. [AP]
Kerala banned sale and production of Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks after a New Delhi-based environment group said earlier this month that the products contain high levels of pesticides.
Coca Cola India and PepsiCo India, both of which operate bottling plants in Kerala have challenged the ban in the state's High Court and on Friday, they sought the court's permission to continue production until judges deliver their verdict in the case.
But the court said, in a written order, that the prohibition will stand until it hears the case on September 11.
While Kerala has imposed a total ban on the soft drinks, six other states have banned the beverages at schools, hospitals and government offices.
Coke and Pepsi officials were not immediately available for comment.
Both companies have rejected the allegations saying their products across the world adhere to uniform and international standards.
This is not the first time Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in India have faced charges of pesticide content in their soft drinks.
The allegations first surfaced three years ago, when the Center for Science and Environment said its tests revealed PepsiCo and Coca-Cola drinks sold in India contained pesticides that were respectively 36 and 30 times higher than European Union safety standards.
At the time, the companies acknowledged that their sales had gone down for several months, until the controversy slowly faded from public memory.