Food Frontiers readers have asked several questions related to the integrity of food industry scientists, whether all food company actions must lead to increased profits, and the need to place the full text of speeches and comments in the public domain. Let me address each.
We do not expect to be judged by our words alone but rather on the basis of verifiable data. PepsiCo’s recent goals and commitments included many features that show deep change is underway. All commitments are global in scope and many include quantitative data with explicit timelines for implementation. Taken together they address most major public health recommendations for actions including those of the World Health Organization. They cover complex issues including restricted marketing to kids, the elimination of direct sales of full calorie soft drinks for primary and secondary schools by the end of next year, and quantitative targets for sodium, saturated fat and sugar levels in the coming years. Actions are underway across the company in relation to all of these health commitments as well as to a matching set of environmental ones.
As we achieve our targets, we will provide solid evidence of compliance. We would hope that colleagues in the public sector and academia will judge us on the basis of that evidence.
As a modern multinational corporation, we spend considerable time thinking about what we need to do to assure our long-term success. In doing so, we and many others across the corporate world acknowledge the importance of taking actions that might not yield immediate gains to the short term bottom line but are the right actions in terms of improving the health and environment of our future consumers.
Trans-fat removal, sodium reduction and reductions in saturated fat are a few examples of expensive undertakings executed by PepsiCo over the last few years that have not all yielded increased short-term profits. Such changes have not been demanded by governments or even consumers, but have been seen as important actions in response to scientific knowledge.
Finally, we recognise the importance of placing our research and views within the public domain for two reasons. Firstly, to allow our ideas to undergo the rigors of the peer review process, and secondly, to allow colleagues to understand where further advances in science and policy are needed to achieve public health goals. We have recently we summarized views on:
- Chronic diseases in a Globalization and Health journal (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20509876 )
- Our role in addressing undernutrition in the American Journal of Public Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20395578)
- Our public statements in conferences are increasingly being webcast in full (questions and responses included) and one recent debate on obesity in Australia is at http://www.themonthly.com.au/obesity-food-industry-more-problem-or-solution-2077