Coca-Cola has stopped school trips to its factories due to fears the company is contributing to obesity.
Over 100,000 school children in the UK have been on the free factory tours in the last 10 years, positioned as educational trips, at educational centres at five of the company’s factories and a recycling centre.
Reports in the national media say Coca-Cola is also scrapping its Real Business Challenge, a competition which has so far involved about 390,000 secondary school pupils.
A 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains 35 grams of sugar which is the equivalent to nine teaspoons, and government concern over rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes has put pressure on the firm.
Speaking to The Times, Liverpool councillor Richard Kemp, who has campaigned against Coca-Cola’s promotions aimed at youngsters, said: “They shouldn’t be working with children. It’s three decades since we stopped cigarette companies doing factory trips, and we are catching up with fizzy drinks.”
Children’s healthy food and drink campaigner and high-profile chef Jamie Oliver, who has previously called for curbs on the sale of fizzy drinks to youngsters, said: “We need cross-party support for this. Child health must be above politics.”
The Labour party has also proposed stopping the selling of energy drinks with a high-sugar content to be children aged under 16.
A spokesperson for Coca-Cola said: “While we are enormously proud of our education programmen, and what the young people involved have achieved, we have been reviewing the best ways that we can support young people in our local communities.”
Coca-Cola said youngsters were offered water during the visits and that the programme was not about brand promotion.
A new project focused on helping youngsters to “overcome barriers to employment” and make a “meaningful contribution to their communities” was instead being developed, the company said.

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