Atlanta: The Coca-Cola Company is in the midst of a communications campaign that spans the globe to counteract claims that the company's product in India is infected with unsafe levels of pesticide.
Several Indian states banned Coke and Pepsi products in various venues after a report from an Indian NGO found high pesticide levels in the beverages early this month.
Coke and Pepsi have denied the claims. Coke produced independent test results last week that it said prove that its drinks are safe. In addition, Indian Health Minister Sushma Swaraj told the parliament that government tests show that soft drinks produced by Coke and PepsiCo in India are safe to drink.
Coke public affairs manager Kari Bjorhaus said the company's first response to the crisis came through the India Soft Drink Association, in order to present an industry-wide unified front.
After Coke had its products tested, it held a press conference, bought ads in Indian media, and has engaged employees and customers throughout the region to reassure them that Coke in India is just as clean as anywhere in the world.
"We follow one set of global standards," Bjorhaus explained. "Having the test results... was key to conveying that message."
She called the press coverage "quite positive."
Bjorhaus said Coke has had "a number of discussions" with government officials, but she didn't speculate on the outcome of those discussions.
Coke's crisis team includes representatives in the US and India across several disciplines. It is working with undisclosed PR agencies in both countries, said Bjorhaus. Pepsi did not respond to calls before press time.