by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Coca-Cola

Oct 9 2009

Another sad partnership story: AAFP and Coca-Cola

On October 6, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) announced its new partnership with Coca-Cola.  What does AAFP get from this?  A grant “to develop consumer education content on beverages and sweeteners for FamilyDoctor.org.”

The AAFP, says its president, looks forward to

working with The Coca-Cola Company, and other companies in the future, on the development of educational materials to teach consumers how to make the right choices and incorporate the products they love into a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Coca-Cola must be thrilled with this.  As its CEO explains in an op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, soft drinks are entirely benign and have nothing to do with obesity.  Obesity is due to lack of physical activity and eating too much of other foods, not Coke.  His view of the situation is entirely predictable.

But what about the AAFP?  Family practice doctors have been telling me for years that it is not unusual for them to see overweight kids and adults in their practices who consume 1,000 to 2,000 calories a day from soft drinks alone.  The first piece of advice to give any overweight person is to stop drinking soft drinks (or other sugary drinks).

This partnership places the AAFP in embarrassing conflict of interest.  I gather that members were not consulted.  They need to make their voices heard.  I hope AAFP members decide that no matter what Coke paid for this partnership, their loss of credibility is not worth the price.

Addendum: Here’s what a Chicago Tribune blogger has to say about this.

Further addendum, October 10: As noted in the comments, AAFP members were consulted, more or less.  Apparently, they decided Big Food was less of a problem than Big Pharm.  Really?  How about selling out to neither?

Oct 2 2009

Coca-Cola reveals calories?

Well, sort of reveals.  Coca-Cola announces that it will put calories on the front of its packages (so you don’t have to search for and put on glasses to read the Nutrition Facts).  You can see what the label will look like in the story in USA Today.

calories01x-large

This sounds good but I view this action as another end run around FDA’s proposed regulations.  In March 2004, the FDA proposed to require the full number of calories to be placed on the front of food packages likely to be consumed by one person, like a 20-ounce soda for example (see figure).  A 20-ounce soda is 275 calories, not 100.

FDA

If Coca-Cola followed that FDA proposal, a label of a 2-liter bottle would have to say 800 Calories right on the front of the package.

This idea got stuck in Bush administration but there’s a good chance the new folks at FDA might take it up again.

Is Coca-Cola serious about helping people avoid obesity?  If so, maybe it could send out a press release distancing itself from those consumer-unfriendly ads run by the Center for Consumer Freedom (see previous post).

Here’s another question: Does Coca-Cola fund the CCF directly or indirectly through the American Beverage Assocation or some other industry trade group?  I will believe that they might really have an interest in consumer health when I know they have no connection whatsoever to CCF and its current ad campaigns.

Dec 23 2008

FDA warns Coke: Coke Plus violates Jelly Bean rule!

Thanks to Jack Everitt for forwarding an article from Reuters U.K. about the FDA’s recent warning to Coca-Cola.  Coke Plus, says the FDA, violates the Food and Drug Act.  Food companies are not allowed to add vitamins and minerals to sugary carbonated water (or jelly beans)  just so they can be marketed as healthy.

OK, but Coke Plus is not exactly a secret.  How come the FDA waited to do this until this “midnight” period just before a new administration takes over?  And how come, asks Jack, do we have to “hear about this from a UK newspaper, rather than a US one. Just like with the last election, we now have to rely on out-of-the-country news sources.”

Let’s hope the FDA is a high priority for Obama.  It should be!

Mar 17 2008

Soft drinks in decline?

The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of Coke and Pepsi and other top brands slipped last year by a percentage point or two. They can’t keep up in the face of rising commodity costs, prices, and the popularity of vitamin waters and sports drinks. The drop might seem like a blip but these companies have stockholders to please and are supposed to be growing and increasing their sales every quarter. So it’s no surprise that the WSJ is taking such a hard look at the declining bottom lines. Expect to see even more production of functional drinks, sweetened and not, and at higher prices, of course.

Jan 27 2008

Coke and Pepsi promote health!

I’m getting lots of e-mails about Coca-Cola’s co-sponsorship of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Instutite’s HeartTruth Red Dress campaign to increase women’s awareness of their risk for heart disease. You can find out more about Diet Coke’s sponsorship on the Coca-Cola website. Here’s my favorite line in the news release: “Participation by Coca-Cola does not imply endorsement by DHHS/NIH/NHLBI.” Really? I’ll bet Coke hopes people will think it does.

But that’s not all. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is partnering with Pepsi. Pepsi, it says, “will work with ADA to develop consumer and professional education programs, and tackle nutrition research questions.” How’s that for unbiased?

Dec 29 2007

Coca-Cola is promoting exercise!

Coca-Cola is announcing its new partnership with ExerciseTV. The press statement explains: “Coca-Cola continues to make great strides in educating the public about the importance of exercise, and how its broad range of products can benefit health-conscious consumers.” This must be part of Coke’s new strategy as a wellness company (see previous comments on the “Pomegranate-Blueberry” drink and Minute Maid Orange Juice). What do we think of this?

Dec 26 2007

Coca-Cola’s new health drink?

Coca-Cola’s Christmas gift was a full-page, full-color ad in the December 25 New York Times announcing Minute Maid’s new “enhanced juice.” The label says “Omega-3/DHA HELP NOURISH YOUR BRAIN.” “POMEGRANATE, BLUEBERRY: FLAVORED BLEND OF 5 JUICES.” Curious to see what was in it, I checked the online label information. Surprise! The first two ingredients are Apple and Grape juices from concentrate. Pomegranate comes in at #3. #4 is mixed fruit and vegetable juices, #5 is blueberry juice, #6 is raspberry juice–all from concentrate. Then come #7 gum acacia and #8 DHA algal oil. Others ingredients follow, but never mind. Of course this drink will nourish your brain. It contains an ounce of sugars per 8-ounce serving (and the bottle contains 7 servings)!