New Delhi, October 24, 2013: The Supreme Court’s recent judgment in the case of chemical additives in soft drinks is opportune, says Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The court, in its order on October 22, 2013, has said that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) should be made responsible for monitoring and exercising control on soft drinks as per the provisions laid down in the Food Safety and Standards Act.
The court also highlighted the importance of public communication on food safety and risk, food safety surveillance and other monitoring activities covering all stages of the food business. It directed the FSSAI to conduct periodic inspections and monitoring of major fruit and vegetable markets for the presence of pesticide residues in the products they sell.
In 2003 and 2006, tests conducted by CSE had found high levels of pesticide residues in almost all the major brands of carbonated beverages. A joint parliamentary committee set up to investigate the findings had found them correct. In 2008, the Union health ministry notified standards for individual pesticides in carbonated beverages.
Says Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and head of its food safety and toxins team: “The current regulatory framework with respect to advertisements of soft drinks as per the Act and the Advertising Standards Council of India code is not good enough and needs to be revised. Globally, there is an increasing body of evidence which demonstrates that obesity and non-communicable diseases (especially in children) could be connected to advertisements of cola drinks and other junk foods.”
CSE says the FSSAI should put all information about the pesticides and chemicals that have been tested for compliance of standards since 2008, in the public domain. CSE researchers also say that periodic testing and monitoring by the FSSAI should not be limited to raw fruits and vegetables. Packaged and processed food commodities including soft drinks should be tested as well.
For an info-package on CSE’s work on food safety, please visit http://www.downtoearth.org.in.
For more details, you can contact Amit Khurana of CSE’s food safety team at firstname.lastname@example.org / 9810813245.