January 23, 2018

Sunny Delight, Others Asked to Stop Marketing In-School Junk Food

Center for Science in the Public Interest has asked Sunny Delight, maker of Sunny D beverage, to stop a program that encourages parents, teachers, and students to collect 20 labels of the product in exchange for foods. CSPI said that Sunny D “encourages families to consume a drink that promotes diabetes, weight gain, and other health problems.”

School LunchroomThe beverage only includes 5% juice; the remaining ingredients are sugar; artificial sweeteners sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and neotame; high fructose corn syrup; sodium benzoate; dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6; and water, along with vitamins and other ingredients such as xanthan gum and canola oil. A 16-ounce bottle of Sunny D Tangy Original has almost 7 teaspoons of sugar.

CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan said in a statement, “you shouldn’t subject kids to a sugar spree to get them to enjoy a book spree. Make no mistake – this isn’t an act of philanthropy on the part of Sunny Delight. These books aren’t ‘free,’ as described. They come at both a financial cost and a cost to children’s health.”

Schools can no longer sell sugary drinks such as Sunny Delight in vending machines on school property. The new Smart Snack standards implemented this year by the USDA mandate that all foods sold at school during school hours must meet certain nutrition standards. An Infographic from the government shows the contrast of products offered at school vending machines and snack shacks before and after the standards were put into place.

Another rule requires school districts to adopt policies┬áthat reduce junk-food marketing as part of wellness policies. CSPI also urges school districts stop the Pizza Hut in-school program, which offers coupons for free pizzas when kids read books. And Amazon.com offers 20% “Back to School Savings” on products such as Oreo cookies, Nutter Butter Bites, Coca Cola, Pop-Tarts, and Country Time Lemonade.

Wootan said, “think of all the good Amazon could do if it used its sophisticated marketing tools to put healthy choices in front of America’s kids and families. Instead, Amazon is marketing junk food.” CSPI would like to see all three companies set nutrition standards for the foods they market in school-related context.

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