Apex court quashes adulteration case against Pepsi

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Thursday set aside a Kerala High court judgment and quashed the prosecution of Pepsico India Holding Private Limited based on complaints alleging presence of pesticide residue in its soft drink.

The apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice Deepak Verma allowed the appeal by the company and said that it raised many questions on the maintainability of the prosecution launched against it.

The entire controversy arose out of the fact that no specific tolerance limit had been prescribed for sweetened carbonated water under law and it was, therefore, presumed that trace of any insecticide would amount to adulteration of the final product, the judgment said.

The court said in the absence of any “prescribed and validated method of analysis under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, a prosecution could have been launched against the soft drink manufacturers by relying on the methods prescribed by the directorate general of health services”.

The judgment said that the percentage of pesticides found in the sweetened carbonated water manufactured by Pepsico was within the tolerance limits that were subsequently prescribed in respect of such product under the anti-food adulteration law.

A food inspector of mobile vigilance inspected the premises of Pepsico’s associate Star Marketing in Ashoka Puram, under Kozhikode Municipal Corporation in Kerala, and sealed some bottles of the soft drink Oct 5, 2006.

On Nov 28, 2006, a public analyst who tested the Pepsi sample said that it contained residue of pesticide - Carbofuran - to the extent of 0.001 mg per litre.

It was concluded that the sample was, therefore, adulterated under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

Based on these findings, a magistrate in Kozhikode initiated proceedings against the Pepsico.

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