This News Bulletin Just In...
Who would've thought that the soft drink industry would be for limiting the availability of their products in public schools?
In a speech tomorrow at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual meeting in Seattle, Wash., Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association (ABA), will announce that the association's board of directors has approved a new school vending policy aimed at providing lower- calorie and/or nutritious beverages to schools and limiting the availability of soft drinks in schools.The editors of the industry trade-journal cited above may have accurately divined an ulterior motive for this newly-found concern for our children's health when they made these comments:
Under the new policy, the beverage industry will provide:
elementary schools with only water and 100 percent juice.
middle schools with only nutritious and/or lower calorie beverages, such as water, 100 percent juice, sports drinks, no-calorie soft drinks, and low-calorie juice drinks. No full-calorie soft drinks or full-calorie juice drinks with 5 percent or less juice until after school, high schools with a variety of beverage choices, such as bottled water, 100 percent juice, sports drinks, and juice drinks. No more than 50 percent of the vending selections will be soft drinks.
The American Beverage Association is asking beverage producers and school districts to implement the new policy as soon as possible. Where school beverage contracts already exist, the policy would be implemented when the contract expires or earlier if both parties agree. The success of the policy is dependent on voluntary implementation of it by individual beverage companies and by school officials. The policy will not supersede federal, state and local regulations already in place. ABA's board of directors, which unanimously approved the policy, represents 20 companies that comprise approximately 85 percent of school vending beverage sales by bottlers.
This new policy is clearly designed to counteract criticism from consumer activists and politicians who say the beverage industry is profiting at childrens' expense. The policy in itself is not going to do much in the way of improving the beverage industry's public relations. Critics will have no problem finding instances in which beverage companies do not follow this policy.I have to admit that those cans of sodas did not just jump out of those machines and make so many of America's kids pack-on all those pounds by themselves. I think that large numbers of school administrators lusting after some easy money for their schools may have had something to do with it.
The food industry should be unified in arguing their strongest point; the food industry did not cause rising obesity and cannot provide any more than a small part of the solution. To this end, the industry is doing more than its fair share of supporting health education and physical fitness programs for youngsters.
The vending industry, for its part, needs to continue supporting initiatives such as the Balanced for Life campaign.
Where there is money to be made, politics will occur.
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