February 21, 2014
THE last drinks bell has rung in Canberra’s public schools with the government moving to ban sugary drinks by the end of the year.
Vending machines will be emptied of soft drinks, fruit juices and full-fat flavoured milks by the end of first term and canteens will have to phase them out by the end of 2014.
They’ll be replaced with water refill stations and reusable drink bottles.
Parents will be encouraged to send healthy drinks packed in their children’s lunch boxes.
However the ban won’t extend to drinks sold at fetes and fundraisers.
It’s all in the interests of tackling the ACT’s growing obesity problem.
“We must not allow the next generation of children to grow up with the same bad eating and drinking habits that some adults are now paying the price for,” Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said in a statement on Friday.
The fruit juice industry says the government’s decision to include its products in the ban is a misguided attempt to show leadership.
“The ACT government is jumping at shadows and is concerned about the sugar in juice which is naturally occurring and comes from the originating piece of fruit,” Fruit Juice Australia chief executive Geoff Parker told AAP.
“We don’t support a young kid drinking a litre of juice or a 600mL of juice but a small glass of juice a day as part of an overall balanced diet is perfectly fine.”
He said a blanket ban sent the wrong message to children when evidence showed kids who drank juice had a better quality of diet overall.
Ms Gallagher said canteens would follow the traffic light guidelines so juices that were 99 per cent fruit and sold in small quantities would be for sale occasionally, along with some cordials and flavoured mineral waters.
She said it was expected for industry to push back against the decision.