Coca-Cola Co. has slammed moves by state governments in India to ban the sale of its soft drinks and has insisted that its products meet the world's most stringent safety standards.

The Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have joined five other states in banning the sale of Coke and PepsiCo brands from government-run schools and colleges.

The moves follow the publication of a report last week claiming that 11 brands owned by Coke and Pepsi contained more pesticide than permitted.

The Indian state of Kerala yesterday (9 August) became the fifth state to enact a ban. A Coke spokesperson in Atlanta attacked the move and maintained the company's products were safe.

"We haven't received a copy of the (Kerala) order but we are disappointed that the government has made its decision on inaccurate information," the spokesperson said yesterday from Atlanta.

She told just-drinks that Coke has had its products on sale in India tested by an independent laboratory in the UK, which said Coke's sodas met the "highest standards for pesticide residues applied to soft drink ingredients internationally".

The spokesperson added that Coke's products around the world meet EU regulations on pesticide in drinking water, which she said, stood at 1 part per billion.

She said: "That's miniscule. It would be like looking for one blue-eyed baby in the whole of India. Those criteria are among the world's most stringent and that's what we've chosen to measure ourselves against."

Coke would continue to work with Indian governments at state and federal level to devise "science-based" criteria for levels of pesticide in soft drinks.