in a major step towards checking adulteration in soft drinks, the Drinks and Carbonated Beverages Sectional Committee (fad 14) of the Bureau of Indian Standards (bis) has decided to segregate soft drinks as a separate category for setting final product standards.
The decision was taken in the tenth meeting of fad 14, held in Chennai on October 27, 2004. It was decided that a core committee would be established to set the final product standards for carbonated beverages by December 2004. Besides setting up standards for pesticides residues, this committee will also set norms for their caffeine content and labelling requirements.
H N Saiyed, director, National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, will head the core committee. Its members will include the Centre for Science and Environment (cse), concert and Consumer Coordination Council (ccc) from the civil society sector; Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ficci) from the industry; representatives from the National Institute of Nutrition (nin), Ahmedabad, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, and a representative from one cola company.
Earlier, civil society groups had made a strong case for treating soft drinks as a separate category for setting the norms. "Except for Coca Cola, PepsiCo, International Council of Beverage Association and ficci-Confederation of Indian Food Trade and Industry, all other industry and industry associations have demanded the separation of carbonated soft drinks from beverages based on fruits and vegetables, milk, tea, cocoa, coffee, etc," read the comment tabled by ccc, concert and cse at the meeting. "The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, separately defines carbonated soft drinks under Appendix-b, a.01.01 as carbonated water. The current bis standard for carbonated soft drinks is also a separate product category (Carbonated Beverages: IS 2346: 1992)," it said.
Soft drink companies had initially opposed the setting up of final product standards for their products, arguing that pesticides got into the drinks from the sugar used. But this claim was refuted by nin through tests of sugar samples used in the drinks. Tests conducted by Vasantdada Sugar Institute, Pune, also presented similar results. Even the data submitted by cola companies and industry associations did not show much pesticide in sugar.