The US has reportedly urged the Indian government to treat PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. fairly in the row surrounding the alleged pesticide content of their products.

According to the AFX news agency today (12 September), the US government's under-secretary for international trade Franklin Lavin has written to Indian officials expressing his confidence that they will deal with the soft drinks giants on a level playing field.

The letter is the first public move by the US government to intervene on behalf of Pepsi and Coke, which have been embroiled in a row over the sale of their products in India for over a month.

The companies have seen a number of Indian states ban their products after a report in July claimed 57 samples of Coke and Pepsi brands had been found to contain 24 times more pesticide than permitted.

Most states only banned the sale of the drinks in government-run offices, schools and colleges but one, the state of Kerala, enacted a state-wide ban.

India's federal government has voiced its criticism of the report from the New Delhi-based Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) but the states have refused to lift the bans, saying Pepsi and Coke products are unsafe, an accusation both firms deny.

Last weekend, Pepsi reportedly launched a fresh defence of its business in India with a TV ad that features the head of its local operations denying its products are unsafe.