California Sugary-Drink Warning-Label Effort Stalls

State senator says he’ll continue to push legislation

Published in CSP Daily News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A bill that would have made California the first state in the nation to require warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks was effectively killed Tuesday, according to an Associated Press report.

Sen. Bill Monning's SB1000 failed on a 7-8 vote as his fellow Democratic lawmakers doubted whether a label would change consumer behavior. It needed 10 votes to pass.

Certain sodas, energy drinks and fruit drinks would have included a label reading, "State of California Safety Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."

It was developed by public-health advocates using cigarette and alcohol warnings as a model. Representatives of the beverage industry argued that the bill was unfair by not applying to other foods and drinks, including lattes and chocolate milk, according to the report.

Monning said warning labels would be the most effective tool for educating people about the dangers of sugary drinks.

Industry groups said warning labels may conflict with an upcoming overhaul of the nutritional information labels regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sugary drinks have been a target of public health advocates who see them as one of the biggest drivers of preventable diseases. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed a ban on large servings of soft drinks in 2012. A court later struck down the ban after it prompted lawsuits and an aggressive campaign from businesses. An appeal of that ruling is pending.

Leaders in San Francisco and Berkeley are considering sending measures imposing a sugary-drink tax to voters in November after nearby Richmond rejected such a tax in 2012, AP reported.

Monning, who previously called for a soda tax, said he would keep pushing for warning labels.