California Could be First for Soft Drink Warning Labels
Due to the unhealthful, dangerous nature of sugary drinks, state lawmakers in California have moved closer to putting warning labels on all soft drinks. According to Reuters, the state Senate passed the bill recently and it’s now onto the Assembly, where it will face opposition from the beverage industry who insists these sugary, high-calorie drinks are harmless.
California led the way in 2005, banning sodas and junk food from public schools. Now, they are looking to take it further, potentially helping adults kick the sugary beverage habit, something health experts say is directly tied to the obesity epidemic.
The bill would put warning labels on soft drinks, advising consumers that such drinks can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay risks.
“Liquid sugar is a significant and unique driver of obesity, preventable diabetes, and tooth decay,” said the bill’s author, Democratic state senator Bill Monning.”Some people accuse this (bill) of nanny governing and yet it is the government that’s responsible to protect the public health and safety of its people.”
The bill is facing considerable opposition from the food and beverage industry. It’s up against groups like the American Beverage Association, which represents major corporations in the industry, and who successfully fought New York City’s ban on the sale of large sugary drinks back in 2012—a decision currently up for appeal in the New York state supreme court.
CalBev, the California branch of the organization says “the last thing California needs is more warning labels…Putting government warning labels on more than 500 beverages will do nothing to change personal behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles.”
The new legislation “will do nothing to prevent obesity, diabetes or tooth decay and may even make problems worse,” testified Lisa Katic of the California Nevada Soft Drink Association. She says the main source of these problems is not beverages made by the companies her organization protects, but by “sandwiches and hamburgers”.
It seems, with this line of thinking, that the powerful beverage manufacturers and their advocates wouldn’t mind the labeling. After all, if it’s not going to affect purchasing habits, why are they spending the money and time to fight the legislation? The fact is, if they truly believed the labels were worthless, they wouldn’t care whether the bill passed or not.
The bill still has to pass the Assembly and then go before Governor Jerry Brown before it is officially approved.