Bottom Lines

04 Apr 2006

Today City University, London, published a study examining how 25 top food companies – rated according to sales – had acted in compliance with the World Health Organization’s strategy issued in May 2004 to tackle obesity and other diet-related illnesses.

The WHO ‘Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health’ has placed new, non-financial demands on food companies, actively involving them in improving public health by urging them to change the nutritional value of their products, provide better information on food composition and practice responsible marketing.

The report, ‘The Food Industry: Diet, Physical Activity and Health’, found that, despite their claims, the world’s top 10 food manufacturers (Cadbury, Coca-Cola, ConAgra, Danone, Kraft, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Tyson, and Unilever), top 10 food retailers (Ahold, Aldi, Carrefour, Ito-Yokado, Kroger, Metro, Rewe, Schwartz, Tesco and Wal-Mart) and top five foodservice companies (Burger King, Compass, McDonalds, Sodexho and Yum!) failed to take significant action to improve diets.

“Their performance is by and large pathetic,” said Tim Lang, City University’s Professor of Food Policy and one of the authors of the report. “The companies that appear to be doing the most are the ones under intense pressure because their product ranges are the unhealthiest, but there is a whiff of desperation about what they are doing rather than long-term commitment to better food”.

Source: The Guardian

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