Peter Begley said it better than I did, when blogging about the cola pesticide scandal in India.
Rohan, who lives in India, says it is a political ploy rooted in anti-Americanism, and provided a link to an article in the Economic Times that explains the Indian Standard used. The Houston Chronicle says that the standards used by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) are proposed norms, and that the regulations in India are not ﬁnal.
Regardless, Peter’s tips on the analysing the ethics of the situation deserve examination, especially as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola have not done enough to defuse the situation beyond buying Pepsi some ads.
From what I can tell from my news search, Coke and Pepsi have left others to do the talking, such as the Indian Agrochemicals Promotion Group, an industry group. Only today have I seen Coca-Cola India making a statement, without addressing the CSE’s allegations directly—and that only serves to fuel the crisis. That’s nine days before we heard a response from Coke in the mainstream media.
Instead, Coca-Cola declared its manufacture safe, by saying, ‘No detectable level of pesticides in Indian soft drinks when measured against the EU criteria in independent lab study.’ Further, in the Indian Express story:
Coca Cola has asserted that its soft drinks have been regularly tested and evaluated by a world renowned UK Government Laboratory—Central Science Laboratories (CSL)—and conformed to the stringent standards. “All tests show that our soft drinks are below the EU criteria for pesticide residues in bottled water,” the cola giant said.
It claims it uses the same standards worldwide, something that some American buyers might dispute as it is believed that Mexican-made Coca-Cola is superior to the American-made variety, and given an earlier scandal.
That time out, it was over pesticides as well:
Three years ago, the New Delhi center had carried out similar tests and had said it found the soft drinks sold by Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo India contained pesticide levels that were respectively 30 and 36 times higher than EU standards.
Coca-Cola itself might wish to point to the outcome that time: an August 2003 study by the Indian government that deemed its products safe and a subsequent endorsement by its Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It could hint that the current mess is political. As Rohan mentioned, Coca-Cola has been the target of anti-American sentiment before.
One would think that Coca-Cola learned from it 2003 experience in India, especially with petitions that were sent to its Indian operation and its Atlanta head ofﬁce that outlined the contradictions in its earlier approach.
Coca-Cola India’s web site has a fairly useful statement that could be communicated with greater clarity, stressing its compliance with Indian law. It may well have stated this to media, but if it has, then it has not been picked up with much success. (My italics.)
Tests are conducted regularly at an independent national and international laboratories such as VIMTA (Hyderabad) for Product Water / Sugar Syrup / Packaged Drinking Water, MWH Laboratories (California, USA) for Packaged Drinking Water and CSL, a world-leading UK government laboratory in London for ﬁnished beverages. These are amongst the few laboratories in the world which have the required ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for pesticide residues testing. The tests conducted reveal that our products meet with all Indian and international applicable standards including those being considered by the regulators in India.
But for now, its response appears to be more double-talk from Coca-Cola India’s PR department—and I believe Indian consumers deserve a great deal more transparency. The CSE challenge should not be hard for Coca-Cola to meet, if such standards are in place, especially if this is mere anti-Americanism. The more Coke stalls, the more suspicious the public will become.
Pepsi has chosen to remain silent other than its ads, which, in my view, makes it worse. But you would expect that from number two.
Del.icio.us tags: Coca-Cola Coke Pepsi-Cola pesticide anti-American scandal India Posted by Jack Yan, 01:04
in the u.s., coca-cola's tagline is, "the coke side of life."
maybe in india, the tagline should read, "the coke pesticide of life."
Speaking is certainly better than silence, but I think they would have come off as less of a bad guy if they were more proactive right away, rather than ignoring these concerns.Post a Comment
Check out this firm's opinion about Coke being slow to react.
# posted by JP: 8/21/2006 08:36:00 PM
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