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JPC on soft drink norms to resume hearing

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI OCT.18. The Joint Parliamentary Committee set up to look into the standards for soft drinks and other beverages is scheduled to conduct its next round of hearings from Monday.

The JPC will hear representatives of the three apex chambers of commerce — the CII, the FICCI and the ASSOCHAM — and scientists from the CSIR's Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, and the Health Ministry's Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata.

The two scientific institutions had conducted analysis of samples of soft drinks on behalf of the Government to corroborate the results obtained by the Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Science and Environment. Their tests confirmed the presence of pesticide residues in some of the samples.

This will be the third round of hearings by the JPC headed by the Nationalist Congress Party leader, Sharad Pawar.

In the first round, it had heard the Director-General of CSIR, R.A. Mashelkar, and in the second, representatives of the Union Ministries of Health and Food Processing Industries and also the CSE.

The second round was significant in that it brought to the fore sharp differences in the approach of the Health Ministry and the Food Processing Industries Ministry towards quality standards for soft drinks and other beverages.

While the Health Ministry favoured introduction of stringent norms, the Food Processing Industries Ministry argued against it on the ground that a large number of units manufacturing soft drinks and other beverages did not have the financial wherewithal to upgrade their systems to meet the standards proposed by the Health Ministry and that even if they did find the money, the products would become too costly, affecting the interests of the consumers as well.

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