In a major relief to cola manufacturers Pepsi and Coke, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to force them to list their ingredients on labels of aerated soft drinks.
However, it asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to keep periodic checks on the contents of chemical additives in foods and carbonated soft drinks as the issue related to citizens' fundamental right to life guaranteed under the Constitution.
Earlier this month, it had asked soft drink manufacturers to include a declaration on their labels that the level of pesticide residue in their drinks was within permissible limits.
A bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan, while disposing of a PIL filed in 2004, directed the FSSAI to monitor and conduct periodic checks of all soft drinks as the issue relates to citizens' fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
A PIL filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), had sought setting up a committee to evaluate the alleged harmful effects of soft drinks on human health and wanted proper labelling of the beverages, detailing their ingredients and regulating 'misleading' cola advertisements targeting children.
The NGO wanted an inquiry for determining the presence of hazardous chemicals like phosphoric acid, caffeine and aspartame in aerated drinks.
However, the soft drink majors had opposed the PIL, saying the Food Safety Act is enough to regulate the standards of soft drinks. Besides, they were taking all necessary steps to inform the general public by appropriately printing on the bottles or caps relevant contents of the products.