The Central Science Laboratory (CSL) of Britain, Monday questioned India's Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report of pesticides in several soft drink brands of Coca Cola and said they did not "detect any such residues".
John Gilbert, the science director of CSL, said: "We detected no residues of the pesticides allegedly found in the products by CSE. We question the CSE conclusion as there is no proof of accuracy and validation."
CSL's tests on all of the soft drinks brands reported less than 0.1 parts per billion of each pesticide, he said.
Further the tests reveal that there is no discernable difference between the brands in the Indian product portfolio, he added. CSL is an executive agency of the British government department for environment food and rural affairs.
"It seems CSE have used a right methodology but they lack expertise. There equipments are not of the international standard to draw such conclusion," Gilbert told reporters.
A CSE report Aug 2 said that 11 soft drink brands of Pepsi and Coca Cola contained high residues of immune suppressive pesticides.
Stewart Reynolds, head analytical unit of CSL said that CSE's written report does not provide confirmation of identity of the pesticide residues. "There is no evidence in the report that, even if the pesticides were present, the levels were measured with any accuracy."
Explaining the procedure followed by CSL, Reynolds said: "We first extract the sample into fluid solvent, concentrate it, remove other components, and separate complex elements by gas chromatography. We look for pesticides by mass spectrometric method."
Reynolds said that both malathion and heptachlor found by CSE are questionable as both the pesticides have been banned since last few years.
Coca Cola which had commissioned the study to CSL said that over 26 samples have been tested and by the end of 2006, the laboratory is going to test 100 samples and all the reports will be available on the company's website.
"Coke is safe and we are maintaining all necessary standards both national and international before coming out with a final product. The brands are safe in India as anywhere in the world," said D.V. Darshane, director, policies and standards (Global Quality).
We are going to reach out to the Indian health ministry and are ready to work with CSE on the quality matter.
Meanwhile, CSE said that Britain laboratory data on soft drinks tests are biased as the company selected the samples.
"The company's contention that only a foreign laboratory can test its products is patronising and borders on racism. If we can drink them we can test them," the green body said in a statement.