The Coca-Cola truck may be banned from touring the UK if recent calls by health chiefs get approval. They want the drinks giant curtailed because of the ‘sugar risk’.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), said local authorities which are allowing the signature red truck to stop in their towns and cities should ‘reflect on whether it’s in the best interests of the health of local children and families’.
The Coca-Cola UK truck tour is now in its seventh year, visiting 42 locations. It started on November 11 in Glasgow and will end in Lakeside, Essex, on December 17.
PHE said some of the towns and cities Coca-Cola is visiting have high rates of tooth decay in five and 12-year-olds, and high levels of obesity in children.
DailyMail UK quoted Mr Selbie as saying: “Big name brands touring the country at Christmas to advertise their most sugary products to children and boost sales does nothing to help families make healthy choices and wider efforts to combat childhood obesity and rotten teeth.
“Local authorities celebrating sugary drinks in this way need to reflect on whether it’s in the best interests of the health of local children and families.’
A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Great Britain however explained that the Christmas truck tour is a one-off, annual event where people are offered a choice of 150ml samples of Coca-Cola Classic, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar or Diet Coke, “so two of the three options are no sugar drinks”.
She added: “This is also reflected in the take-up of samples on the truck tour – with on average over 70 per cent of what we sample being a zero sugar option.
‘We also have a policy of not providing drinks to children under the age of 12, unless their parent or guardian is present and says they can have one”.
She also said that the truck tour route changes every year “as we try to cover a fair geographical spread of the UK”.
Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said “Coca-Cola should start acting more responsibly.
“For instance, it could pledge to ensure that its low and no sugar colas are priced cheaper on the shelf and in promotions than the full sugar Coke, especially after the sugary drinks tax comes in next April.’
A can of Coca-Cola Classic contains around seven teaspoons of sugar, according to information on the Coca-Cola website.