Two more Indian states have banned the sale of soft drinks produced by Coca-Cola and Pepsi after a test by an Indian environmental group showed high pesticide levels in the companies' products.
On Wednesday, authorities in Kerala and Karnataka enacted at least partial bans on sale of the products. That brings to six the number of Indian states that have approved measures against the U.S.-based companies.
The two states said they decided to impose the ban after the New Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment said it found traces of pesticides in the locally-bottled products.
Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have rejected the study, saying their soft drinks manufactured in India comply with stringent international and national standards.
In a statement, Coca-Cola said it was confident in the safety of its products and they are produced to the same level of purity as the European Union's criteria for bottled water.
The U.S.-based company said the New Delhi lab is internationally certified, but does not have an advanced accreditation to ensure consistent testing. It said sample preparation and extraction of potential contaminants are prone to false results and incorrect interpretations.
A similar study by the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi in 2003 briefly decreased sales of the two companies' drinks when it reported pesticide levels in excess of international standards, although some analysts say that report was designed to highlight weak food safety laws in India.
The four other states to ban the soft drinks are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.