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INDIA: Soft drinks industry "shock" at Karnataka ban

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India's soft drinks industry has expressed its "shock" at a decision from the state of Karnataka to re-instate a ban on carbonates in its educational institutions.

The ban was enacted yesterday (20 December), just two days after Karnataka dropped its ban on the sale of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo products. That ban had been imposed following claims the company's products contained illegally high levels of pesticides.

The Indian government, which had backed Coke and Pepsi in the pesticides row, earlier this week called for a ban on the sale of carbonates in schools and universities amid a wider ban on junk food in the country's educational institutions.

Karnataka's state government said it felt "an imminent need" to impose the ban after seeing the effect the consumption of CSDs has had on children's health in the West.

"It has been found that the consumption of carbonated beverages results (in) childhood obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and tooth cavities," the state government said. It added the "findings" had led to a ban on CSDs "in several states of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and several other countries".

The Indian Soft Drink Manufacturers Association, which represents Coke and Pepsi in India, said there has been "no conclusive study" that establishes the link between CSDs and the health issues cited by Karnataka's government.

It said: "A ban is never the solution and the need is for balancing calories in and calories out. This can be achieved by offering a range of beverage choices and by promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. This clearly is a challenge that needs to be addressed by all the stakeholders."

The association added: "It is important to note that a similar ban order issued by the Karnataka government which was based on unsubstantiated ground was unilaterally withdrawn by the government before the high court."


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