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Monday, May 08, 2006

Soda Deal with Clinton Foundation Latest PR Stunt

The headlines certainly sound impressive: ?Companies pulling sodas out of school? claimed the Associated Press; ?Bottlers agree to a school ban on sweet drinks? said the New York Times.? These and hundreds of other news stories around the nation this week gave the impression that the beverage industry had an epiphany and magically, all soda will disappear from schools forever.
 
Only one problem: nothing could be further from the truth. On Wednesday, Big Cola announced yet another voluntary school sales policy, this time, one brokered by the Clinton Foundation (the former president has made childhood obesity one of his post-presidency causes) and the American Heart Association.
 
We don?t even know all the details of this secretly-negotiated deal because the Clinton Foundation hasn?t made the actual agreement available on its website. (However, you can download the photo opportunities from the press conference.) 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 ?goal? 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.
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