Cola case: SC asks food authority to renotify all its panels

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) Pulling up food sector regulatorFSSAI for keeping Pepsi and Coca-Cola representatives on acommittee looking into the alleged use of harmful chemicals insoft drinks, the Supreme Court today directed it toreconstitute all such panels.

"We are sorry to say that the panel does not consist ofindependent persons. It is contrary to the act. What kind ofrecommendations do you expect from the panel," said a benchcomprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Ganguly to theFood Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The court directed it to renotify all such panels withintwo weeks and remove names associated with industrial houses.

"In such panels you should have independent persons. Ifyou have these kinds of people on the panels, then what kindof results you would get. This panel (with Pepsi and Coca Colarepresentatives) is prima facie against the law," it said.

The court was not satisfied with FSSAI''s reply that thepanel needed expert advice on several complex issues and said,"In such panels, you can invite them (experts from industrialhouses), but cannot make them whole time members."

The bench further said that section 13 of the FSS Actclearly specifies that only independent scientific experts canbe appointed on such panel.

It added that the panel has done nothing substantial inthe last two years, from August 2009, when it was formed byFSSAI to look into the issue.

"Two years have gone by from August 27, 2009 and you aretotally silent. You have done nothing. It is question ofservice and importance," the bench said.

"The companies (cola companies) are selling everythingthey want. You (FSSAI) have not stopped anyone... For morethan 18 months, you are sitting quiet on that (issue). What isthe answer of that," it added.

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation has approachedthe court on alleged chemical additives used by cola majors intheir drinks and their affect on the human health.

The NGO has also requested the apex court to direct thecola firm to put their ingredients disclosing their contentson the label of their bottles. .

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