India’s Supreme Court Orders Checks on Carbonated Soft Drinks
India’s Supreme Court has reportedly accepted a government scientific panel’s finding that the chemical additives in soft drinks— e.g., artificial sweeteners, phosphoric acid, carbon dioxide, coloring agents, benzoic acid, and caffeine—are well within safety levels and do not pose a health hazard to citizens. According to a news source, the Union government insisted that the Food Supply and Standards Act, 2006, along with its rules and regulations, constituted a “vigorous regulatory regime and [was] being implemented meticulously.”
At the same time, however, the court ordered the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India to monitor and conduct regular checks of all carbonated soft drinks sold in the country, indicating that the matter relates to citizens’ fundamental right to life guaranteed under the Constitution. The order was passed by a bench composed of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri, who were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the establishment of an independent panel to evaluate the harmful effects of soft drinks on human health, particularly on children. That PIL also called for a “regulatory regime” to monitor chemical additives in foods in India, including soft drinks, and to make it mandatory for soft-drink manufacturers to disclose contents on labels and include warnings about potential harmful effects. See The Hindu Business Line, October 22, 2013; Economic Times, October 23, 2013.