It is important for health advocates to look at the full scope of a food company’s behaviors and actions. After all, it is to be expected that when communicating with health organizations and health professionals, industry puts forth a message of “being part of the solution”, “championing wellness”, and “working together.” Real intentions are seen when industry is away from the gaze of health professionals.
Big Beverage has been on the defensive lately as a result of coming under rightful scrutiny from public health and nutrition advocates. To say that soda is undergoing a public relations crisis would be an understatement.
In this Beyond Chron article, school food advocate Dana Woldow details the many ways in which Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics partners Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (hiding behind The American Beverage Association) are staunchly opposing a proposed soda tax in San Francisco with fearmongering and spin.
“Opponents of the tax, amply funded by the American Beverage Association, and hiding behind the vague name ‘Coalition for an Affordable City’, have been out in force trying to sign up small businesses to protest the measure. The Coalition for an Affordable City has been asking small business owners to display in their shop windows a flyer featuring a bold, all-caps headline “SAN FRANCISCANS SHOULDN’T HAVE TO PAY MORE” followed by numerous unsubstantiated claims that the American Beverage Association hopes will scare folks into opposing the tax. “
In the article, Woldow expertly eviscerates the following myths put out by Big Beverage:
Myth #1: “City government should be focusing on more important issues.”
Myth #2: “When it comes to our food and beverage choices and the choices we make for our families, we don’t need the city government’s input.”
Myth #3: “This tax could negatively impact existing nutrition and recreation funding.”
Myth #4: “San Francisco consumers are taxed enough already.”
Myth #5: “This tax won’t just affect soda – it will impact hundreds of beverages.”
It’s a shame that, by and large, the Academy has remained tight-lipped about this ever-growing public health issue. Imagine what a powerful statement the Academy could make by educating its members on why Big Beverage’s hyperbolic fears about a soda tax are misguided and incorrect.