Social responsibility is something that the beverage industry takes very seriously.  We've spent some time informing our readers about our member companies' efforts to transform the beverage landscape in schools and help consumers make informed choices.

What you might not know is that our member companies follow responsible practices regarding advertising and marketing to children that recognize the central role that parents should play in making choices for their children.  Under these policies, our member companies do not advertise full-calorie soft drinks to children under 12.

For further proof of our commitment to these and other issues, we'd like to share with you a paper that was recently posted online in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine which demonstrates the dedication of the non-alcoholic beverage industry to responsible advertising and marketing practices.  The study shows that, between 2003 and 2007, beverage advertisements directed at children and adolescents continued to decrease "by about 27 percent to 30 percent across age groups" and there were "substantial decreases in exposure to ads" for sugar-sweetened beverages.

Interestingly, some of our member companies were among the first to sign on to the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a program that increases the percentage of advertising for products that meet certain nutrition standards directed at children under 12, as well as advertising messages that encourage good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

The American Beverage Association also announced its support for the International Council of Beverages Association Guidelines on Marketing to Children, developed in 2008. These guidelines set a standard whereby beverage companies voluntarily agreed to eliminate the advertising and marketing of a wide range of beverages, including carbonated soft drinks, to any audience that is comprised predominantly of children under 12. This policy includes paid media outlets such as TV, radio, print, Internet, phone messaging and cinema, including product placement.

While the 'food police' will always look for negative spin on industry efforts, we think that the general public is smart enough to recognize that our member companies are leading the way on these issues.