The Indian government has laid down new rules for water used in soft drinks in the country. The move comes nearly five months after the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up to probe the alleged high level of pesticides residues in soft drinks suggested in February 2004 that the water used in manufacturing soft drinks should be in conformity with the packaged drinking water norms in force since January 1, 2004, The Financial Express reported.
On July 15, the Ministry of Health issued notification that "carbonated water means water conforming to the standards prescribed for packaged drinking water, impregnated with carbon dioxide under pressure."
The new rules amending the Prevention of Food Adulteration would come into force after 90 days from the date of publicationJuly 15.
Prior to this, standards for soft drinks only mentioned that water in the soft drinks has to be potable without giving any quality standards for the potable water.
Even after the new rules, other crucial recommendations of JPC have been left unattended. For example. the JPC had said that stringent final product standards for carbonated beverages need to be fixed. The Committee had opined that it is "prudent to seek complete freedom from pesticide residues in sweetened aerated water". The new notification, however, has not commented on the issue.
Other issues such as caffeine content in soft drinks has also been ignored. The JPC had suggested that soft drink companies should introduce non-caffeinated versions of their products in the Indian market, The Financial Express reported.
PepsiCo spokesperson Abhiram Seth said that it was a rational decision and puts the Indian soft drinks at par with EU standards. "We are already conforming with the norms," he said.
The JPC was set up during the monsoon session of 2003 following a report by a Delhi-based NGO Center for Science and Environment (CSE) that alleged that both PepsiCo Indias and Coca-Cola Indias soft drink brands contained higher level of pesticides.