Note: This article has been moved over from my previous blog for historical purposes.
5th August 2003, CSE (Center for Science and Environment) a non-government organization from New Delhi accused bottled softdrink majors PepsiCo and Coke of selling products that tested positive for pesticides.
Samples, collected from 12 brands purchased from markets across the country analyzed in April-August were found to contain pesticides. The brands were Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Mirinda orange, Mirinda Lemon, Blue Pepsi, 7-Up, Coca Cola, Fanta, Limca, Sprite and Thumbs Up. (source: rediff.com)
The rest is history. After a slew of events (coke/pepsi denying charges, govt. stopping sales and ordering probe, independent lab tests done by pepsi and coke , etc etc - see chronological list here), today the matter lies fading from our memories. I forgot about it too !!
Recently (since Oct 2003), Aamir Khan - one of our countries leading actor (or so i thought) came out with a brand new coke ad. His earlier coke ads where he plays a hyderabadi shopkeeper, nepali guide and others had been runaway hits ! His latest bengali babu coke ad shows him and his wife bindu declaring about how coke is safe !! I have not expected this from a sensible actor like Aamir. Personally, not only do i find the ad insulting to my intelligence but i also find it revolting that one of indias leading actor vouches for it !! Shame aamir !
But then again, when does one need to harp on the fact that he's innocent ? Why, when he's actually guilty of course. Coke is not in the clear yet and pepsi has wisely kept their mouth shut (though i did see some product ads in the news paper claiming it to be safe to drink). There have been several instances when, even if coke has declared its innocence, lab tests continued to find pesticide residues (CFL/CFTRI findings).
The sad part is that despite all of this, i see my own friends continue to gulp these soft drinks by the litres. There's no sense blaming or even flaming the govt. when the people it serves are of weak will. I actually have a friend who has spent years in a consumer conscious country like US, but back here in India, declares proudly "I know it contains pesticides, but i've gotto drink it !!". What do u say to that ?
I believe consumer awareness starts from YOU (and me). However, all is not lost. I was glad to see news reports from kerala, bengal where people are choosing to drink indian drinks. I just wish to stress the fact that, the power lies with us - in the choices we make. Choose well !