Wrong end of the sweet stick

11th June 2004 at 01:00
Your news story "Sour reaction to sweet deal" (TES, May 21) highlighted criticism of a new programme, Nestle Exercise Your Choice, developed with the Institute of Youth Sport for use in school clubs. The article is based on criticism from Baby Milk Action, a campaigning organisation which is openly hostile to Nestle, and includes a quote from a representative of the National Union of Teachers.

However, Nestle was not given a fair opportunity to be a part of the article or indeed reply to the criticisms levelled at the company.

The article also omits any contribution from the Institute of Youth Sport, or from the Make Space clubs which have chosen to participate in it. The result is a one-sided story.

The article incorrectly states that Nestle Exercise Your Choice is a pound;2.5 million project. In fact, the programme supports the Make Space campaign - this is a pound;2.5m campaign funded by the Nestle Trust in partnership with 4Children, the leading childcare charity. Make Space seeks to transform opportunities for teenagers across the country by establishing a network of contemporary after-school clubs designed to meet their needs.

Nestle Exercise Your Choice is a programme created for Make Space clubs to enable them to offer young people access to exciting sports activities out of school.

Your article makes reference to a widely criticised product redemption scheme run by Cadbury and seems to suggest a comparison with the Nestle Exercise Your Choice programme. The two schemes are in fact very different.

Nestle Exercise Your Choice does not promote Nestle's products and is certainly not a redemption scheme. It is part of our community investment programme and encourages participation in sport (and includes advice on combining physical activity with a balanced diet).

The Nestle Exercise Your Choice Scheme is open to the network of Make Space after-school clubs (some of which are based in school, but most of which are not). Clubs which participate receive equipment worth more than pound;700, including resources to get the programme started, as well as a development grant of up to pound;500 to enable clubs to develop further activities.

Your article goes on to state that Nestle has been targeted by campaigners who accuse it of violating the World Health Organisation's international code for marketing breast-milk substitutes. You failed to balance this with any reference to Nestle's categorical statement that it adheres to these recommendations - and has done so since the code was introduced in 1981.

All that said, the Make Space campaign and Nestle Exercise Your Choice are simply about providing new opportunities for young people who desperately need safe places to go and constructive, exciting activities to take part in after school. They are genuinely interesting and innovative programmes developed by two leading youth-sector charities.

We will ensure that you are made aware of the development of the programmes and we very much hope that you will consider covering the contribution they make to young people.

Jayne Bassham Chief press officer Nestle UK Ltd St George's House Croydon, Surrey

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