Calif. Assembly: No Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Soda_Can_LabelThree weeks after the California Senate approved a bill that would require labels on sweetened beverages warning consumers about potential health risks associated with their consumption, the state Assembly’s health committee yesterday voted against the bill, effectively killing its passage, according to The Fresno Bee.

California Senate Bill 1000 failed on a 7-8 vote in committee, with opponents claiming that a warning on sugary drinks would be confusing and do little to change consumer behavior.

Introduced in February, and sponsored by State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), the bill would have required a warning on the front of packages for all beverages with added sweeteners that contain 75 or more calories per 12 oz. reading, “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

Sen. Monning and other supporters of the bill argued that such a warning was justified because sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity and other health-related problems. In a release announcing the proposed bill, Sen. Monning stated that “as with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices.”

The release goes on to state that “drinking just one soda a day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27 percent and a child’s by 55 percent,” and that research shows that a soda or two a day increases the risk of diabetes by 26 percent.”

Opponents of the bill, however, claimed that the bill unfairly pointed the finger at sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages as the leading cause of obesity and diabetes. They noted that other high-calorie foods, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise are major contributors to increased risk for disease and health issues.

The American Beverage Association (ABA), an industry trade group, recently published a blog post titled, “Fact: Food Is The Number One Source Of Sugar.” Pointing to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the ABA stated that “all too often we hear a myth that sugar-sweetened beverages – soda in particular – are the number one source of sugar for children and teens. The truth is that this age group gets most of its added sugars from food, not sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Following the defeat of the bill, State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), said that a warning only on beverages with added sugar, was “an honorable effort,” but ineffective.

“I think this bill creates as much confusion as it does information,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez told The Fresno Bee. “A label which will appear on soda and sports drinks with no labels appearing on chocolate milk, juices or alcoholic beverages sends the wrong message.”