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Industry Decries Calif. Beverage Bill


In response to the California State Senate's passage of a bill that would require warning labels on sweetened drinks sold in the state, the beverage industry warned that such a move would "only feed the confusion surrounding hundreds of beverages, without changing personal habits."

"Putting government warning labels on more than 500 beverages will do nothing to change personal behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles," contended the California-Nevada Beverage Association (CalBev), the California arm of the Washington, D.C.-based American Beverage Association. "The last thing California needs is more warning labels."

CalBev's objections to the proposed legislation include what the organization called "confusing" exemptions for milk-based products such as frappuccinos and mochas, even though some of those products contain just as much sugar as soda, and the fact that obesity and related diseases like diabetes are complex conditions with multiple risk factors unlikely to be addressed by a warning label.

The group also noted that the updated nutrition labels proposed by President Barack Obama and the Food and Drug Administration -- the first in two decades -- would supersede lawmakers' efforts, wasting "time and taxpayer money [by] singling out sugar-sweetened beverage containers when there’s a new national effort already underway."

Among the beverages that would be affected by the bill are juice and juice drinks from such popular brands as Bolthouse Farms, Capri Sun, Gold Peak, Minute Maid, Ocean Spray, Snapple, Tropicana, V8 and Welch’s, along with juices using juice concentrates as sweeteners, and drink mixes.

Since the bill has passed only one chamber of the state legislature, CalBev intends to continue efforts with its coalition, Californians for Food & Beverage Choice, to oppose the measure as it moves to the California Assembly, a CalBev spokeswoman told PG.

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