India's southern Kerala state on Wednesday banned the Indian subsidiaries of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo from manufacturing and selling soft drinks, news reports said.
Several Indian states have banned the sale of Coke and Pepsi at schools and colleges after a New Delhi-based research body claimed they contained high levels of pesticide residue, but Kerala was the first state to impose a ban on production and sales across the board.
Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan, the state's elected head, told reporters that the decision was made based on a recommendation of the leftist coalition that governs Kerala, the AP reports.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo could not be reached immediately for comment.
Last week, the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi said last week that it found pesticide residues in samples of Coke and Pepsi that were 24 times above the limits set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
The center said it carried out tests on 57 samples taken from 11 soft drink brands made by Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo India and found a "cocktail of three to five different pesticides," all apparently present in groundwater used to make the drinks.