For many of us, the arrival of Coca Cola’s famous TV advert heralds the beginning of the festive season, but as Christmas approaches, dental experts are encouraging parents to steer clear of the brand’s annual Christmas truck tour.
Coca Cola is once again taking its infamous red truck on a whistle-stop tour of the UK, visiting 19 towns and cities over the course of the next few weeks. The event is now in its ninth year and has a reputation for drawing large crowds. Despite the success of the parade, not everyone is pleased to see the distinctive lorry on the roads. Paediatric dentists have branded the tour “harmful” and accused Coca Cola of trying to drive profits in some of the country’s most deprived areas.
Claire Stevens, NHS paediatric dentistry consultant and member of the British Society for Paediatric Dentists, said that the only motive for the tour is to promote the brand and encourage adults and children to consume “harmful” drinks. The entire range, including products that are sugar-free like Coke Zero, is problematic in terms of dental health, as even the sugar-free drinks are acidic. Acids in the mouth contribute to erosion of the enamel, increasing the risk of decay and premature tooth loss. The BSPD is supporting Public Health England’s stance that fizzy drinks should not be included in children’s diets.
A spokesperson for Coca Cola described the truck tour as a “one-off moment of fun in the run-up to Christmas” and stated that around 90% of the samples handed out over the coming weeks will be small cans of diet or sugar-free cola. The brand will also be ensuring that under 12’s are only given drinks if accompanied by parents in line with its “responsible marketing policy.”