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Court lets Coke, Pepsi off the labelling hook

26-August-2005
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Court lets Coke, Pepsi off the labelling hook

The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the appeals of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Foods against the Rajasthan High Court judgment against them. This was in view of the introduction of the Food Safety and Standards Bill in Parliament today.

The High Court, in a public interest petition, had ordered the two companies and all other manufacturers of carbonated beverages to “disclose the composition and contents of their products, including the presence of pesticides and chemicals on bottles, packages or containers”.

The companies argued before a bench headed by Chief Justice RC Lahoti that labelling packages was now regulated by international norms like Codex.

Harish Salve, counsel for Coke, submitted that the regulations specified what could be stated on packages. No country can ask manufacturers to state more than the information mentioned in the Codex.

If the multinationals are forced to print warnings on packages of their products, foreign countries can ask Indian products like milk to be labelled in the same manner. This would scare away consumers because they might misunderstand processes and products, he said.

Counsel Ashok Desai for Pepsi then informed the Court that the new bill introduced in Parliament would update the law, and scrap the old Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

Therefore, he requested the Court to await the passage of new regulations. This was accepted.

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