Are Sugary Drink Warnings Coming to California?
California isn’t exactly known as a business-friendly state. In some ways, the governor has tried to change that. He’ll have an interesting choice to make if a recently-passed senate bill reaches his desk.
Last week, the State Senate Committee on Health passed a measure that would require health warning labels on beverages with added sugar, the first such measure in the country. The bill, introduced by State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), would require beverages with 75 calories or more per 12 ounces to be labeled: “State of California Safety Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”
Certain medical groups, including the California Medical Association, supported the measure, while the beverage industry warned of a “red tape nightmare” that would increase costs, according to CalBev, which is the California branch of the American Beverage Association. CalBev argued that the bill would interfere with the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts information required for packaged foods and dietary supplements, as addressed by our colleague Justin Prochnow in his February 28, 2014 post entitled, “Don’t Go Changing to Try and Please Me….”. Cal Bev also took issue with the exemptions in the bill, which does not require the same warnings for drinks containing sugar and milk, including frappucinos. “It doesn’t make sense for California to waste time and taxpayer money singling out sugar-sweetened beverage containers when there’s a new national effort already underway,” CalBev said in its statement.
Another likely consequence of this proposed regulation is more consumer litigation, and the issues it will raise, including preemption, which will unsweeten California’s business climate considerably.