Coca-Cola stops factory trips for schoolchildren following obesity backlash

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Coca-Cola is going to stop arranging factory trips for schoolchildren following a backlash by childhood obesity campaigners.

Over the past decade, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has hosted more than 110,000 visitors at its six education centres, welcoming more than 15,000 secondary school and university students every year.

390,000 secondary school students have also taken part in the Real Business Challenge, a national competition that aims to help pupils develop useful skills such as teamwork and problem-solving. 

CCEP has now announced in a statement that it will be shutting down its educational programme in addition to the Real Business Challenge. 

“Whilst we are enormously proud of our Education programme, 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,” the statement reads. 

“This change in approach does mean that we will no longer be hosting the current Educational visits at our sites and we will not be running the Real Business Challenge.

“We are going to develop an exciting new programme with a more focussed ambition of helping young people overcome some of the barriers to employment and helping more of them make a more meaningful contribution in their communities.

“This new approach will work with older young people and will be done in partnership with specialist organisations already working in this field. There will be more news on this in the future.”

This news comes following growing opposition over the promotion of drinks with a high sugar content to young children. 

“We have a childhood obesity crisis, we’ll only tackle it with tough decisive action,” tweeted Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South. 

“As well as banning junk food advertising on family TV, improving labelling and sugar tax it’s also time to ban the sale of high-sugar energy drinks to children.”

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver retweeted Ashworth in support of his message.

It has recently been revealed that CCEP will be closing a manufacturing site in Milton Keynes and a distribution centre in Northampton, which could lead to the loss of 288 jobs.

However, there are plans in place to create 121 additional jobs at other locations.