Milburn takes role as PepsiCo adviser

PepsiCo has appointed former health secretary Alan Milburn to its newly established UK board of advisers as the US food and drinks company looks to bolster its health and wellness credentials in the UK.

Pepsico has named Milburn, who will pocket up to £25,000 from the role, and Philip Gould, political adviser to Tony Blair, as its first two appointments to the board.

The establishment of a UK advisory board is a radical move by PepsiCo, whose brands include Walkers Crisps, to signal the growing importance of health when marketing its products.

New legislation on nutritional labelling, a ban on vending certain soft drinks in schools and rising concerns over obesity are just some of the issues facing food and drinks manufactures in UK.

PepsiCo’s sugary fizzy drinks, for instance, have come in for particular criticism from health groups. The company already has advisory boards in the US and Europe, which advise on diversity, health, nutrition and wellness.
However, outside the US it has never established a country-specific advisory board.

The UK board, which will meet four times a year, will have a similar remit to the US and European board and meet every quarter to discuss health and strategic issues.

A PepsiCo spokeswoman says: “This is the first advisory board established by PepsiCo UK. The business anticipates making a smaller number of further appointments to its board, including scientist and nutritionists.”

Milburn, who was health secretary between 1998 and 2003, makes about £140,000 from his extra-curricular activities which include a number of lucrative journalism deals, according to Parliament’s Register of Members’ Interests.

He is one of a growing list of MPs taking on lucrative advisory roles. William Hague, for instance, is adviser to construction group JCB while David Blunkett chairs an international advisory committee to digital specialist Entrust.

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