Diabetes UK says Britvic deal was ‘rigorously scrutinised’
Diabetes UK has defended its recently announced Britvic deal saying the money will go towards helping support children with type 1 diabetes in schools.
The leading charity released the news last week that it had signed a three-year, £500,00 partnership deal with the soft drinks company.
However, a series of health campaigners have slammed the decision with one person – who overturned his type 2 diabetes after ditching sugar completely – calling it “blood money”.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, radio presenter Jon Gaunt added: “This is a company that still pushes sugary products. Diabetes UK has lost all credibility by doing this.”
Dr Simon Tobin, who is a GP from Merseyside, said: ‘I’ve been diabetic lead at my practice for 25 years. I cannot recommend my patients are supported by Diabetes UK. How can they trust a charity that has partnered with Britvic?”
But Diabetes UK has said it stands by its decision, saying the deal was well thought out and the money will make a significant impact on young people with type 1 diabetes.
The charity’s Chief Executive Chris Askew said: “Our charitable mission to fight diabetes is at the core of everything we do.
“Any partnership we enter into – including with the food and drink industry – only happens if we truly believe it will bring about positive change, and we firmly believe our partnership with Britvic will do just that.
“Every Diabetes UK partnership is subject to rigorous scrutiny to ensure the partners we work with share our ambitions.
“We will continue to campaign with an independent voice and to call for any change that we believe is needed to benefit people with and at risk of diabetes.
“We cannot tackle the diabetes crisis in isolation; we recognise thay partnerships – and the opportunities they present both to influence industry and to enable, expand and amplify our work – are one of the key ways to make change happen more quickly and ultimately help us make our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm a reality.”
A Britvic spokesperson said: “We have a long history of supporting public health having started out in the 1930s as the British Vitamin Products Company to bring a source of affordable vitamins to ordinary Britons.
“We’ve had a three-pronged health strategy since 2013 to help consumers make healthier choices and we have taken bold decisions, such as taking added sugar Robinsons off the shelves in 2014 and added sugar Fruit Shoot off the shelves in 2015, because we knew it was the right thing to do.
“At the time of the soft drinks industry levy coming into force, 94% of our owned brand portfolio was already under or exempt from the levy; the small amount left was in products like our grapefruit and cranberry juice mixers which require some sugar as they are so bitter. Brands like Tango and R Whites were already lower sugar and underneath the levy.
“Our partnership with Diabetes UK is very much in the spirit of us wanting to play our part in helping to make a difference on a growing public health issue, in line with the focus we have given to public health for many years, and our strategy to help consumers make healthier choices.”