"The people at our member companies - many of whom are parents themselves - are delivering on their commitment to advertise only water, juice and milk on programming for children under 12. In fact, recent research supports that there has been a dramatic change in food and beverage advertising during children's programming, with advertisements for soft drinks decreasing by 96 percent between 2004 and 2010 alone. This report is another attack by known critics in an ongoing attempt to single out one product as the cause of obesity when both common sense and widely accepted science have shown that the reality is far more complicated."
In response to today's release of a Rudd Center report focused on our industry's products and practices, Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association, issued the following statement:
"The people at our member companies - many of whom are parents themselves - are delivering on their commitment to advertise only water, juice and milk on programming for children under 12. In fact, recent research supports that there has been a dramatic change in food and beverage advertising during children's programming, with advertisements for soft drinks decreasing by 96 percent between 2004 and 2010 alone.
This report is another attack by known critics in an ongoing attempt to single out one product as the cause of obesity when both common sense and widely accepted science have shown that the reality is far more complicated."
Additional Background Information:
On Marketing:Under a Global Policy on Marketing to Children, our member companies do not advertise beverages other than juice, water or milk-based drinks to any audience that is comprised predominantly of children under 12. The policy covers a wide range of marketing outlets including paid media such as television, radio, print, Internet, phone messaging and cinema, including product placement. Recent research conducted in the United States by Georgetown Economic Services and sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Association of National Advertisers supports that there has been a dramatic change in food and beverage advertising during children's programming. In fact, between 2004 and 2010, advertisements for soft drinks decreased by 96 percent, while advertisements for fruit and vegetable juices increased by 199 percent. Our members also follow the guidelines of the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the self-regulatory body for children's advertising, which apply to all of our beverages. The authors of the Rudd Center report do not adequately differentiate between marketing to children, who are widely viewed as a special audience needing particular care, and marketing to teens and general audiences. Reinforcing this difference, David Vladeck, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission, recently announced that the guidelines on marketing to children being developed, in part, by the FTC will be directed only to children under 12. His testimony before a Congressional committee noted that: "... it is not necessary to encompass adolescents ages 12 to 17 within the scope of covered marketing. In fact, it is often difficult to distinguish marketing designed to appeal to this age group from marketing directed to a general or adult audience ..."
On Beverages in Schools:The beverage industry has stepped up to be part of the solution to childhood obesity. We have removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverage options. Under our national School Beverage Guidelines, our member companies have reduced beverage calories shipped to schools by a dramatic 88 percent since 2004.
On Calorie Labeling:With Clear on Calories, America's leading beverage companies came together through a voluntary commitment to put clear and consumer-friendly calorie information on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce. By putting calorie information right up front on our packaging, our industry is making it easier for people to make informed choices about the beverages that are best for themselves and their families.
On Caffeine:Caffeine is safe for all ages and is among the most studied ingredients in the food supply today. In fact, more than 140 countries have specifically considered the safety of caffeine and allow its use in beverages at varying levels. Though not required to do so, most beverage companies voluntarily display caffeine amounts on their packages and make this information readily available on their websites.
On Low-Calorie Sweeteners:The suggestion that companies should remove low-calorie sweeteners from their products is not based in science. Low-calorie sweeteners have undergone extensive review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and results have shown that they are safe for all age groups. Low-calorie sweeteners have obtained approval from regulatory agencies around the world, including the World Health Organization, FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as safe for use in foods and beverages. Furthermore, a 2007 literature review of the low-calorie sweetener aspartame by an expert panel including some of the world's leading toxicologists also evaluated the ingredient's safety at current levels of consumption and once again confirmed that it is safe. In addition, low-calorie sweeteners have been shown to be useful for weight loss and weight maintenance.
On Energy Drinks:This report confuses energy drinks and sports drinks. Sports drinks typically contain electrolytes and are formulated for optimal fluid replacement. Sports drinks are not advertised as energy drinks and are not formulated in the same way. Sports drinks are an appropriate beverage for youth athletes. Our member companies do not market energy drinks to children under 12 and do not offer energy drinks to K-12 schools. ABA and its member companies recognize public discussions about the marketing of energy drinks and their appropriate consumption and recognize their responsibility to play a positive role in addressing these discussions. As an association, we have adopted a number of voluntary policies pertaining to energy drinks over the last several years: voluntary quantitative caffeine labeling, a global policy on marketing to children, guidelines on what can and cannot be sold in schools. All of these demonstrate that our members are responsible companies that do care about their consumers, especially children and young adults. In fact, to move beyond existing policies, earlier this year the ABA Board of Directors approved the ABA Guidance for the Responsible Labeling and Marketing of Energy Drinks.
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The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States. For more information on ABA, please visit the association's Web site at www.ameribev.org or call the ABA communications team at (202) 463-6770.