MEDIA STATEMENT

21 February 2014

Response to ACT school ban on fruit juice and soft drinks in vending machines

The Australian Beverages Council has today responded to the ACT ban on fruit juice and soft drinks in five vending machines in schools, announced today.

“Today’s announcement appears to be a misguided attempt to show leadership in this space by the ACT Government as the industry has already been taking proactive steps around offering healthy choices in schools,” said CEO Geoff Parker.

“The Chief Minister refers to access to sugary drinks being a problem, but in fact is talking about a very small number of vending machines – just five in total.   The Australian beverages industry already has a strict policy to not support the sale of full kilojoule soft drinks in primary schools. As an industry, we do support juice being available in schools because of research that shows kids who drink juice have a better overall diet quality. Juice as part of the diet is within the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines and juice in schools is supported by the national healthy schools canteen guidelines.

“There is a place for all foods and beverages as part of a sensible balanced diet, combined with regular physical activity. Isolating sugar as the single contributor to overweight and obesity overlooks the myriad of factors of this complex issue. And to suggest the full exclusion of fruit juice from a child’s diet is going to in anyway be a fix to the problem is contrary to the science, the Dietary Guidelines and school canteens guidelines.”

Mr Parker said sugar consumption amongst Australian children from sugar sweetened beverages has decreased whilst obesity continues to be a problem.

“According to the 2007 Australian National Children’s and Physical Activity Survey, a mere 1.6% of the average kid’s energy (kJ) intake is from sugar-sweetened soft drinks and just 2% from fruit juice, and the juice contribution of energy to a kid’s diet hasn’t changed since 1995. Water is the most popular beverage consumed by children, followed by fruit and vegetable juices.

“We would call on the ACT Government to reconsider the role of fruit juices in the diet of Australian children” Mr Parker concluded.

 

Media contact:

Geoff Parker – Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council

+61 (0)407 646 195

The Australian Beverages Council is the peak body for the non-alcoholic beverages industry and represents 95% of the industry’s production volume through membership.