News Releases & Statements
Beverage Industry Responds to PLoS Medicine Opinion Piece
In response to “Soda and Tobacco Industry Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns: How Do They Compare?,” a policy forum article published in the June 19 issue of PLoS Medicine, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:
“There is simply no comparison between soda and tobacco – not among our products, nor our business practices. Tobacco in and of itself is harmful – in any amount; our beverages are not. They can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, despite the authors’ suggestions, corporate social responsibility programs are not unique to our industry. They are widely recognized and embraced by leading businesses around the globe. To suggest otherwise is not only untrue, but shines a light on the inherent bias of this opinion piece.
It is also important to recognize that, as stated in an accompanying editorial, the journal editors made a conscious decision ‘not to provide a forum for the industry to offer a perspective’ on its role in global health. This approach fails to acknowledge industry’s real, collaborative efforts with key stakeholders in developing meaningful solutions to public health issues such as obesity, an approach recently recommended by the Institute of Medicine, as well as the World Health Organization.
The non-alcoholic beverage industry has a long history of commitment to its customers, consumers and communities. That commitment is exemplified in our member companies’ CSR efforts. These include being part of meaningful solutions to help reduce obesity, from product innovation and clear labeling to support of programs that promote balanced, active and healthy lifestyles.”
Additional Background Information:
On Journal Editorial:
- This issue of PLoS Medicine offers only one perspective– of those critical of the food and beverage industry at-large.
- In fact, the journal editors themselves state, “We decided not to provide a forum for the industry to offer a perspective on their role in global health …”
On Tobacco Comparison:
- The fact remains that the beverage industry is nothing like tobacco. Our products are not even in the same universe as tobacco. Smoking kills. Soda doesn’t.
- The journal editors themselves note that, “Food, unlike tobacco and drugs, is necessary and central to health and disease.”
On Industry’s Efforts to be Part of Meaningful Solutions:
America’s beverage companies are delivering more choices, smaller portions, fewer calories and clearer labels across the country. By doing so, our companies are making a meaningful difference for families and individuals in our communities – making it easier to choose the drink that’s right for them.
- Through innovation, our companies have broadened their product portfolio, offering beverages in a wide variety of type, portion size and calories. These innovations are evident on store shelves and in vending machines throughout our communities.
- The broad choices in beverage type include soft drinks, ready-to-drink teas, water, sports drinks, flavored and enhanced waters, juices, energy drinks and more.
- The new choices include an ever-increasing selection of low- and no-calorie beverage choices, as well as mid-calorie beverages. The innovation pipeline continues as our companies remain engaged in developing even more beverage options to fit the ways people live.
- Delivering a range of portion sizes is another way to help individuals and parents choose beverages that are right for them and their families. Soft drinks and other beverages packaged for individuals are now available in portion sizes ranging from 20-ounce bottles to 7.5-ounce cans, with several options in between.
- Through its School Beverage Guidelines, the beverage industry voluntarily reduced juice portion sizes in K-12 schools and capped portion sizes on sports drinks, which are only offered in high schools, to 12 ounces. The range of portion sizes for beverages – including more smaller-portion options – provide for even more choice.
- Through innovation and initiative, America’s beverage companies are cutting calories in stores and in schools across the country.
- In the marketplace, the development of more low- and no-calorie beverages has helped drive a 23 percent reduction in the average calories per serving since 1998, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation, a leading analyst of industry sales data.
Beverages in Schools:
- We recognize that schools are unique places where parents want greater control over what their children eat and drink when they’re not around. That’s why we successfully implemented national School Beverage Guidelines.
- The guidelines removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion options. Under the voluntary Guidelines, only juice, low-fat milk and water are allowed in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of lower-calorie and portion-controlled beverages in high schools.
- Through the guidelines, the signatory companies drove an 88 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools since 2004.
Clear Calorie Labels:
- America’s beverage companies are delivering on their Clear on Calories commitment to place clear calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce.
- We are placing total calories on the front of all bottles and cans up to and including 20 ounces so consumers know exactly how many calories are in the beverage before making a purchase. For packaging larger than 20 ounces, the labels provide calories per serving.
- The calorie labels put this information right at the fingertips of consumers so they can make a choice that’s right for them.
- The beverage industry announced the Clear on Calories initiative in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.
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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.