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Seeking to completely undo the damage done by the pesticide controversy, global food and beverages giant PepsiCo today said it gave safety and integrity of products the single-highest priority and would fully comply with whatever standards India sets.

“I personally stand behind each and every product we sell. In my view, they are the best in the world,” Pepsico’s president and CEO Indra Nooyi said in her first press interaction outside the US after taking charge at the helm of the $33 billion MNC.

She said PepsiCo, which along with rival Coca-Cola has been embroiled in controversies in India over the presence of high levels of pesticides in soft drinks, followed “rigorous standards” of safety and quality. “They are global standards – the same in New York, London and Beijing as they are here in Delhi and everywhere else,” India-born Nooyi said adding that she did not mind NGOs highlighting issues affecting the environment.

“NGOs are good and they are working hard to highlight environmental and safety issues and they should be there,” she said, referring to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that had claimed products of Pepsi and Coke contain pesticide residue harmful for human consumption.

Nooyi said PepsiCo has long-term plans for India, which was among its high-growth markets globally. “India is of great strategic importance to us and, along with China, is among our fastest-growing markets,” she said. Daily India reported:

Nooyi, who is among the highest-ranking corporate chiefs of Indian origin in the US, also spoke on the recent controversy in India over alleged high level of pesticides found in soft drinks manufactured by Pepsi and Coca-Cola. ‘I am pleased to report that we – and the Coca-Cola Company – are in the process of validating a breakthrough, science-based method to reliably and consistently measure low levels of pesticide residues in finished soft drinks,’ she said.

‘Without a doubt, our products are the safest in the world,’ Nooyi said, referring to the clean chit given to soft drinks manufacturers by a government-commissioned study, following protests by non-governmental organisations.’To most people, we’re a soft drink company – but in fact today our exports of Indian products generate more than $60 million annually.’

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