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California bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks

February 14, 2014

SB 1000 would require a warning label on cans and bottles of soda and fruit drinks that have 75 or more calories per 12 ounces.

A California lawmaker has proposed a first-in-the-nation bill that would require sugary drinks sold in California to have health warning labels. State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and the California Medical Assoctaion say the legislation is necessary because research links sugary drink consumption to skyrocketing rates of diabetes, tooth decay and obesity.

Says Monning, “When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers. As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices.”

The proposed bill, SB 1000, would require a warning label on the front of all cans and bottles of soda and fruit drinks sold in stores with added sweetners that have 75 or more calories per 12 ounces. The label would read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” The wording for the proposed label was developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts.

At fast food restaurants with self-serve soda dispensers, the label would be on the dispenser. In a movie theater or business where the dispenser is behind the counter and used by employees, the label would be on the counter.

The bill is opposed by CalBev, the state arm of the American Beverage Assn., whose members include Coca-Cola Co., Pepsi-Cola Co. and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. CalBev says the law should not single out one type of product for special treatment. “We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue,” CalBev says in a statement. “However, it is misleading to suggest that soft drink consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain. In fact, only four percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda.”

Americans drink more than 45 gallons of sugary beverages a year, according to Ashby Wolfe of the California Medical Assn. Drinking just one soda a day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27% and a child’s by 55%, according to medical experts supporting the bill.

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