EC 'names and praises' committed food firms

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soft drinks, European union

The EC has publicly 'named and praised' major food and drink
firms that have made commitments to tackling obesity.

The companies named include nine soft drinks companies in UNESDA, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, who have committed not to advertise soft drinks to children under 12, and McDonald's for its commitment to provide nutritional information on packaging throughout Europe.

Unilever was praised for its commitment to reformulating products, and Kraft was commended for its commitment not to market certain products directly to children unless they meet a certain nutritional profile.

European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou made the announcement last week in Brussels.

"These commitments are good examples of concrete and verifiable action undertaken by industry to tackle obesity and overweight,"​ he said.

The commitments were made within the framework of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. This Platform gathers stakeholders to agree voluntary measures to combat overweight and promote physical activity.

They have so far presented 146 commitments overall.

"The EU Platform is producing results,"​ said Kyprianou. "I would therefore like to congratulate the companies that made these commitments, encourage them to build on their good work, and invite others to do the same - and more. It's only by working together that we can hope to halt and begin to reverse the growing obesity epidemic in Europe."

The commitments 'named and praised' by Commissioner Kyprianou were presented by the European CEOs of the companies concerned. Dominique Reiniche, president of the European Union Group, the Coca-Cola Company and president of the Union of European Beverages Associations (UNESDA) and Zein Abdalla, CEO of PepsiCo Europe, presented the commitments of the nine soft drinks companies who have committed not to advertise soft drinks to children under 12.

Denis Hennequin, president of McDonald's Europe, outlined McDonald's commitment to provide nutritional information on packaging throughout Europe, while Kees Van der Graaf, president Europe of Unilever, explained Unilever's commitment to reformulate products.

Marc Firestone, executive vice president of corporate and legal affairs of Kraft Foods, presented Kraft's commitment not to market certain products directly to children unless they meet a certain nutritional profile.

Commissioner Kyprianou welcomed the commitments as good examples of the progress of the Platform. He emphasised that a key element of building the credibility of the Platform, and one of the reasons that these commitments were considered good examples, is that their implementation is monitored in a transparent, accountable and participative way.

The Commissioner also set out his thoughts on work in progress in the area of nutrition and healthy diets ahead of the EU-WHO Conference in Istanbul (15-17 November 2006). One core output of the conference is expected to be the adoption of a European Charter on counteracting obesity.

The next step for the Commission is a possible Communication on Nutrition and Healthy Diets in 2007.

Related topics: Market Trends, Food labelling

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