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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Indian state bans Pepsi and Coke
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

An Indian man drinking a cola
NGOs say colas contain high levels of pesticide in India
The Indian state of Kerala has banned the production and sale of Coca Cola and Pepsi following a report that the drinks contain harmful pesticides.

It said it was taking the step because the drinks pose a health risk. Both soft drinks manufacturers have said their products are safe.

Five other states have already announced partial bans on the drinks in schools, colleges and hospitals.

But Kerala is the first to completely ban their production and sale.

The move by the communist government in Kerala in southern India is the most severe reaction to a report released last week by an Indian non-government organisation, the Centre for Science and Environment.

It said tests carried on samples of the drinks across 12 Indian states revealed dangerously high levels of pesticides.

Both Coca Cola and Pepsi have disputed the report's findings, saying their drinks meet international safety standards.

'Absolutely safe'

The Indian Soft Drinks Manufacturers Association issued a statement on Wednesday after the Kerala ban was announced.

"Our products manufactured in India are absolutely safe and meet every safety standard set by food health and regulatory bodies in India and all over the world," it said.

It said it would only comment on the Kerala ban once it had been told about it by the authorities.

In 2003, the Indian parliament upheld a similar report by the NGO, alleging that soft drinks sold by the two companies in India contained pesticides.

It recommended that India set purity standards for soft drinks.

But three years later, the government is yet to act on the recommendation.

Court asks Pepsi, Coke to respond
04 Aug 06 |  South Asia
Pepsi and Coke under fire again
02 Aug 06 |  South Asia
India finds pesticides in colas
04 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Court orders Pepsi tests
11 Aug 03 |  South Asia

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