INDIA: Coke, Pepsi in government setback - report
India's health minister has reportedly called for a ban on the sale of soft drinks in schools and universities amid a wider ban on junk food in the country's educational institutions.
The call is a further setback for soft drinks giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo, which have seen sales in India hit this year following claims their products contain illegally high levels of pesticides.
"Colas with or without pesticides are harmful for health and should not be consumed. We want all forms of junk food like pizzas, chips, samosas and burgers banned from canteens," India's health minister Ambumani Ramadoss was quoted as saying by the Financial Times newspaper.
The call comes despite India's Health Ministry backing Coke and Pepsi in their legal battles against a number of Indian states that had banned the companies' products in the wake of the pesticide scare.
The FT report, however, said the minister had written to India's state governments asking them to plan for a partial ban on fizzy drinks and junk food, which have been blamed for rising levels of heart disease, obesity and diabetes across the country.
The soft drinks industry had appeared to be making progress after the pesticide claims. On Saturday, Karnataka's state government withdrew its ban on the sale of soft drinks in educational institutions, hospitals and government offices.
Moreover, last week, Coke and Pepsi received temporary relief from the pesticides row when the India's Supreme Court delayed the verdict in the controversial contamination case for two months.
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