SC asks govt to conduct checks on soda manufacture

Court does not find merit in plea for cola producers to point out ingredients

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to ensure that food-safety standards, pertaining to carbonated soft drinks, would be strictly adhered to and also asked it to conduct periodic checks on manufacturing units, in order to prevent possible health hazards.

A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri, asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to rigorously monitor the manufacturing of soft drinks while expressing satisfaction over the current regulatory regime in place to examine the ingredients in carbonated soft drinks.

The court said that the concerns regarding harmful effects of soft drinks on human health pertained to a citizen’s fundamental right to life.

The court, however, did not find any merit in the plea to issue directions to the cola makers to point out ingredients on labels.

In 2004, a PIL filed by an NGO sought direction to set up a committee to evaluate the alleged harmful effects of soft drinks on human health and also to properly label the beverages, revealing its ingredients. 

It alleged that the ingredients of carbonated drinks have “serious deleterious effects on human health” and no action has been taken to test and assess the risk posed by such beverages.

Opposing the contention, soft drink companies pointed out that the Food Safety and Standards Act was sufficient to regulate the standards of beverages.

The apex court had in 2011 asked the FSSAI to reconstitute independent scientific panels to examine the ingredients in carbonated beverages. 

The panel found that no health hazard was posed if the ingredients were under the prescribed limits. 

The Indian Council of Medical Research also issued a similar finding.

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