Last week there was a fair amount of self-congratulatory trumpeting about how the Soda industry was capitulating to concerns about the sugared beverages being sold in schools. It has received a fair amount of press, and the Soda companies look like they are doing the right thing.
Or are they? Commondreams is pointing out a few things that look, shall we say, a tad suspicious.
What we do know is that this new policy is completely voluntary, which means it’s unenforceable, with no accountability. We are told that the “goalˮ is to implement the guidelines in 75 percent of schools by the 2008-09 school year, with the rest coming on board a year later. That’s quite a long phase-in period given the imminent public health crisis our children face. How this goal can be achieved given the lack of oversight is a complete mystery.
To make matters more interesting, it’s not the soda companies that have to sign on to this voluntary agreement, but the schools themselves. It is they who have to renegotiate the various contracts (.pdf file) that many of them have with the soda companies. How many of them will be willing to reduce the income that the soda companies have given them, in this time of tax reduction and school levies that do not pass?
Was the press conference last week merely window dressing? Only time will tell. In fact it’s likely that’s all the soda companies wanted – time to derail the various legislative actions that were starting up in states throughout the country.