India takes Coca-Cola to court alleging high pesticide levels

BANGALORE, India, Aug 19 (AFP) – India’s southern state of Karnataka has filed a case against US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, accusing it of selling products with unacceptably high pesticide levels, a minister said Saturday. The case was filed August 12 after state health department-supervised laboratory tests showed excessive amounts of pesticide in Coca-Cola product samples, Karnataka Health Minister R. Ashok said.

“The government will not hesitate to initiate action, be it against a multinational company or an Indian firm,” Ashok told reporters in Bangalore, India’s high-tech hub.

The case was the first to be filed by a state government against Coke since a New Delhi-based environmental group said earlier this month that tests of products made by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo showed high pesticide levels.

The minister did not say whether PepsiCo products were also tested at the private laboratory in the state capital of Bangalore. He also gave no details of the tests.

According to legal documents, the tests found that the Coke products contained a pesticide called malathion beyond permissible limits.

Exposure to high amounts of malathion can cause difficulties with breathing, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps