Asks it to reconstitute panels examining the harmful effects of chemicals and toxins in carbonated beverages and other food items

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Thursday 10 February 2011

The Supreme Court, on February 8, ordered the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to reconstitute independent scientific panels looking into the harmful effects of chemicals and toxins in carbonated beverages and other food items.

The court was hearing a petition on the harmful effects of chemical additives in soft drinks and their disclosure on the labels, filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

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The Supreme Court reprimanded the FSSAI for violating section 13(1) of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. As per the Act, a scientific panel should comprise independent scientific experts and subsequently the scientific panel should invite relevant industry and consumer representatives in its deliberations.

According to petitioner Prashant Bhushan, some of the members of the panel, formed to study the harmful effects of additives in carbonated beverages, appointed by FSSAI, were not independent scientific experts; instead they were representatives of Coca Cola and Pepsi. FSSAI has about eight scientific panels and their composition clearly tilts towards industries. For instance, the scientific panel looking into food additives, flavouring, processing aids and material in contact with food had members of Coca Cola and Pepsi.

The bench comprising Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice AK Ganguly said, “Experts' panel is prima facie violative of the Food Safety Act.” The Authority said that they would reconstitute the panels, according to section 13(1), within two weeks and submit an affidavit on the studies carried out on chemical content of soft drinks and their harmful effects on consumers. 

What judges said

“According to Prashant Bhushan, some members of the Panel appointed by the respondents are not independent scientific experts and their appointment is not in consonance with Section 13(1) of the Act. At this stage, learned counsel appearing for the Food Safety and Standards Authority submits that the Penal would be reconstituted in terms of Section 13(1) of the Act,within two weeks from today and an affidavit would be submitted before this Court.”
Companies in a panel

Coca Cola, Pepsi Co, Hindustan Unilever, Marico, Britannia, ITC, Nestle India, Hind Agro Industries, GSK Consumer Healthcare and Food Safety Solutions and International



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