Industry and ethics rarely go together and the common impression that industry focuses only on profit while ignoring the safety of the consumer persists widely. Probably industry has to blame itself for this none too laudatory image that is prevalent to day. Look at the recent unpleasant tiff between Kerala Government and Coca Cola Corporation regarding the water issue which is snow balling into a major international ruckus. After accusing the beverage giant for many ills that visit the region where its beverage plant is located in the state, demands are being made on the company for a compensation to the tune of Rs 200 crore! It is another matter that no scientific assessment was made to find whether Coca Cola company has really violated any conditions stipulated while giving license in the first place. The Government of Kerala and its Pollution Control Board are also to be equally blamed for permitting this industry to violate, if any, the mandatory regulations vis-à-vis solid, liquid and gaseous wastes generated and disposed off by its operations. It is against such a background that the reported assessment of ethical credentials of major food companies by an international agency brought out its findings.
"Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, PepsiCo and Solae have been recognized by Ethisphere Institute as the World's Most Ethical Food and Beverage Companies for 2010.This is the fourth year Ethisphere, a think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability, has published the World's Most Ethical Companies rankings, which appear in Ethisphere Magazine's Q1 issue.The World's Most Ethical Companies designation recognizes companies that truly go beyond making statements about doing business "ethically" and translate those words into action. WME honorees demonstrate real and sustained ethical leadership within their industries, putting into real business practice the Institute's credo of "Good. Smart. Business. Profit."There is no set number of companies that make the list each year. Rather, the World's Most Ethical Company designation is awarded to those companies that have leading ethics and compliance programs, particularly as compared to their industry peers".
For India, it is a good news that PepsiCo and Solae, two companies with presence in the country find prominent places in the international ranking. These organizations must do more for the society in India to maintain their new found image. As the beverage industry uses 3 times the water for producing its beverages and bottled water, it is but logical that they must help the water starved rural regions in the country to get access to water through modern technologies. A company like Solae can share some of the burdens of public feeding programs to help children become healthy citizens of tomorrow.