The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the government to conduct periodic checks of soft drinks manufacturing units.
A Bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to rigorously monitor manufacturing of soft drinks, saying the issue pertained to citizens’ fundamental right to life.
The court, however, refused to issue directions to cola makers to list their ingredients on labels, a demand raised in a PIL by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation.
The 2004 petition also asked for the setting up of a seperate committee to evaluate the alleged harmful effects of soft drinks.
The plea had 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.
Soft drink major Pepsi had opposed the PIL, saying the Food Safety and Standards Act, which laid down regulations and standards for beverages, was sufficient and no further guidelines were required.
In 2011, the court asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to constitute independent scientific panels to look into the ingredients. The panel concluded the ingredients, under prescribed limits, posed no health hazards. The Indian Council of Medical Research reached the same conclusion.
Taking note of the experts’ opinion and the new Act, the court deemed it appropriate to dispose of the PIL, but directed the FSAAI to ensure stringent implementation of the provisions in the law in public interest.