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INDIA: Supreme Court backs PepsiCo in pesticide case

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India's Supreme Court has dismissed attempts to prosecute PepsiCo over allegations that its drinks contained unsafe residues of pesticides.

Supreme Court judges have quashed criminal proceedings brought against PepsiCo by the state of Kerala. Local authorities have pursued the soft drinks giant since independent tests in 2006 found that some PepsiCo drinks on sale in Kerala contained pesticide residues.

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PepsiCo appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this year after Kerala's High Court backed local authorities' decision to prosecute the group. It has vigorously denied selling drinks that were unsafe for consumption.

In its appeal, the soft drinks maker's central argument focused on the lack of regulation. It said that no standard procedure had been set for measuring pesticide residues in food and drink and also that no limit existed for residues in carbonated soft drinks at the time of testing.

In addition, the Supreme Court judges ruled that Kerala's High Court "appears to have overlooked the fact that the percentage of pesticides found by the Public Analyst in the sweetened, carbonated water manufactured by the appellants was within the tolerance limits subsequently prescribed in respect of such product".

PepsiCo's CEO, Indra Nooyi, has previously expressed her regret at not challenging pesticide allegations sooner and more forcefully.


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