Soda warnings clear legislative test

April 09–SACRAMENTO — Sen. Bill Monning’s efforts to slap a warning label on soft drinks and other sugary beverages cleared its first legislative test Wednesday.

Borrowing a tactic used on alcohol and cigarettes, the Carmel Democrat wants Californians to see a safety warning when they pick up a soda pop telling them sweetened beverages can lead to a variety of diseases.

“The status quo is unacceptable,” Monning said. “There is a public health epidemic in this state.”

Studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to obesity and related ailments such as heart disease and diabetes, with Monning saying the problem is especially severe among the state’s youth, where four in 10 are obese.

The bill supplants Monning’s earlier, and unsuccessful, efforts to enact a tax on sweetened beverages. The bill would add the following words to beverage labels: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

Retailers would be required to post warnings wherever soda is sold or dispensed, with penalties of up to $500 for any violations. Like the earlier tax effort, the bill is drawing strong industry opposition from beverage, retailer and restaurant groups.

Dietician Lisa Katic, who testified on behalf of the California-Nevada Soft Drink Association, said the obesity epidemic is not driven by one food or beverage, and that warnings could make the problem worse. She pointed out that doctors are now beginning to realize that earlier warnings against eating fat were errant, and that diabetes is rising even as Americans reduce their caloric intake from soft drinks.

“The numbers just don’t add up,” Katic said.

Monning said peer-reviewed, scientific studies have all concluded that soda is a part of the problem, adding that soda doesn’t have any nutritional value, unlike other unhealthy foods such as burgers or french fries. He said consumers have a right to know the links between soda and health problems.

“While people may know that drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage is not as healthy as eating your vegetables, what they don’t know is how these products are linked to illness and chronic disease,” Monning said.

The bill has support from doctors. Dr. Ashby Wolfe, representing the California Medical Association, said she spends so much time educating her Oakland patients about the health impacts of drinking soda that she cannot get to them all.

“We need to go upstream,” Wolfe said. “We need to go beyond the medical office, looking at the cause of the problem and address it at its origins.”

Xavier Morales, of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, said Latinos are among the ethnic groups disproportionately impacted by diabetes. He said the impacts are profound, including dozens of diabetes-related amputations annually.

“It’s an understatement to just call it an epidemic,” Morales said.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources