U.S. Water News Online
NEW DELHI, India -- The government has withdrawn quality
certificates given to some of India's most popular brands of bottled
water and may close some bottling plants after sample tests found
high pesticide levels, officials said.
India's Bureau of Standards revoked the certificates for water
produced at five plants, including one operated by Bisleri
International, which makes one of India's most popular drinking water
brands, according to inspection results made available to The
The documents also showed that Indian branches of multinational
companies PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. have been warned about
improving their equipment and testing procedures.
The inspections come amid public concern about
pesticide-contaminated water, with officials launching new efforts to
enforce the government's hygiene standards for bottled water.
Pesticide levels are generally high in many parts of the country,
and regulators are finding that bottling plants are not filtering
The government's inspections are continuing, and bureau officials
said hygiene shortcomings were likely to be discovered at other
The Hindustan Times newspaper quoted Health Minister Sushma Swaraj
as saying the government was planning to enforce new standards for
water starting in April.
The new rules would require water to be tested for 32 pesticides,
using internationally established methods, the report said. The
standards applying to pesticide residue will be made more stringent
and companies will be asked to obtain additional approvals on the
water they filter.
The quality certificates allow bottlers to stamp their waters with
the government's approval. Without those marks, a water brand would
likely see a steep drop in sales.
The Indian market for bottled water has been growing at more than
50 percent annually in recent years, making it a lucrative business
that has drawn new manufacturers -- including those without the
expertise to produce safe water.
The crackdown ``is in the interest of the consumer, and also the
industry,'' said Sunil Gupta, vice president of Coca-Cola India,
acknowledging the warning letter demanded improvement of equipment
and testing methods at the company's southern Indian plant.
``We will be doing it right away,'' Gupta said.
Coca-Cola claims its Kinley brand now commands a 37 percent share
-- the biggest -- of India's bottled water market.
The plants facing possible closure belong to leading Indian
manufacturers Bisleri International, Kothari Beverages and Ion
Exchange, a Consumer Affairs Ministry official told the AP on
condition of anonymity. The documents showed that three of these
companies' plants have already lost their government quality
The crackdown came after the Center for Science and Environment --
a New Delhi-based independent research body -- issued a report
earlier this month that found samples of bottled water sold by most
companies contained high levels of pesticides.
In the tests, the pesticide-residue levels were found to be as
high as 104 times the internationally accepted norm.
Indian newspapers have carried recent front-page stories about the
findings. Pesticides can cause cancer, nervous disorders and birth
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