Fizzy drinks out of New Zealand schools from 2009

Monday, December 11, 2006

An agreement signed between the New Zealand government, Frucor Beverages Ltd, and the Coca-Cola Amatil (New Zealand) has secured that both full sugar fizzy drinks and energy drinks that are made by those two companies will not be sold in secondary schools coming into effect 2009.

The agreement was completely voluntary and is a world first as it was directly negotiated with the companies and the government.

It has been estimated that the agreement will remove around 1,105,000 litres of fizzy drinks from schools. That amount of fizzy drinks has about 118,000 kilograms of sugar. When one secondary school in Auckland introduced healthier drinks they saw around half a tonne of sugar removed.

Steve Maharey, minister of education, said: "The agreement will see the removal of 1.1 million litres of full sugar beverages from schools over the next three years. I welcome the industry's recognition that action is needed on this issue. This agreement is a strong step forward that will support the work we are doing to ensure schools and communities can provide healthier alternatives for their students."

Pete Hodgson, minister of health, said that the agreement is what can happen when both government and industries work together. "I thank Coca Cola Amatil and Frucor for their leadership on this issue," Pete Hodgson said. "Today's agreement is a major step forward for the Food Industry Accord and shows once again what can be achieved when we reach for cooperative, rather than regulatory solutions."

Diet drinks will remain on sale that contain artificial sweetener, Aspartame. And in 2007 the government will recommend water and low-fat milk in early childhood centres and high schools. But there is a lot of controversy surrounding Aspartame which many consider to have serious long-term health effects. If there is only a choice between water, milk or soft-drink, nearly all kids would choose the latter.

The government has also announced a new programme called Mission-On that will promote nutrition and physical activity and will also try to improve the quality of food that children will be subject to in schools. It will also try to decrease the amount of advertising unhealthy food companies are given.

Mr Hodgson said: "This agreement forms only a small part of what will be necessary to address this challenge, but shows that the government and the food industry are serious about playing our part."

Mr Hodgson has confirmed that regulation will now not happen and has said that regulation would have been too costly and too slow to implement.

Frucor Beverages Ltd and Coca-Cola Amatil are the only companies that provide drinks to schools.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.