A study commissioned by the government of India has detected five different kinds of toxins in soft drinks made by two multinational companies, PepsiCo and Coca Cola, The Indian Express reported.
Random samples of 600 ml PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles of Pepsi, Coca Cola, Mountain Dew, Sprite and 7UP were tested by the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIH&PH) in a study that was commissioned by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), which is affiliated with the health ministry.
The results of the test, conducted in February-March, revealed traces of heavy metals like antimony, lead, chromium and cadmium as well as the compound DEHP, or Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, in four bottles of each of the brands picked up through "stratified random sampling method".
The results were submitted by the AIIH&PH to Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services and chairman of DTAB recently.
There are no permissible limits for heavy metals in cold drinks but their presence are not desirable. Tests found 0.029 milligrams per litre (mg/L), 0.011 mg/L, 0.002 mg/L, 0.017 mg/L and 0.028 mg/L of antimony, lead, cadmium, chromium and DEHP, respectively, in Pepsi. In Coca Cola, 0.006 mg/L, 0.009 mg/L, 0.011 mg/L, 0.026 mg/L and 0.026 mg/L of these heavy metals, respectively, were found. Sprite, Mountain Dew and 7Up also yielded similar results.
The report pointed out leaching of these heavy metals "from the PET bottles in which the drinks were packaged" increased with rise in room temperature. According to World Health Organisation, lead and cadmium are of "major public health concern", having severe effects on children and adults, causing renal diseases and acting as carcinogens in humans.
According to The Indian Express, in 2015, Jagdish Prasad is believed to have asked the AIIH&PH to study leaching of toxins from PET bottles used for packaging pharmaceutical preparations, cold drinks, alcohol, juices and other beverages.
Later, the health ministry formed another committee under MK Bhan, former secretary, department of biotechnology, which concluded there was no clear proof of PET bottles contaminating medicines inside them. The committee, however, admitted there were no standards for safe plastic packaging in India, unlike some other countries.
PepsiCo India told The Indian Express it has not received any "intimation nor a copy of the cited test reports" It declined to comment on it without understanding the methodology used. It also reiterated that all its "products conform to Food Safety and Standards Regulations."
Coca Cola India declined to respond the newspaper, while queries sent to PET Container Manufacturers Association remained unanswered.
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