Soft drink warning label passes first test in Calif. Senate

SACRAMENTO - Consumers of sugary soft drinks could soon see a labeling change on their product if legislation in the California Senate moves forward.

SB 1000 targets obesity by placing a health warning label on all sweet and sugary beverages sold in the state.

On Wednesday, the bill cleared its first major hurdle, getting a 5-2 vote in the Senate Health Committee.

The warning would read: "drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."

If passed, sugary drink bottles, cans, vending machines and restaurants would be required to display the warning label.

The rule would apply to most beverages containing over 75 calories per 12 ounce serving.

Health experts who support the legislation say liquid sugar is a leading factor in today's obesity epidemic and putting a warning label would curb that trend.

"It tells consumers the scientific truth about these products so they can decide for themselves what they want to drink, that's what education is all about," Dr. Harold Goldstein with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy said.

Opponents are labeling the bill as misleading, saying there is no strong scientific evidence to support it.

"It's not just soft drinks that contribute to obesity. It really is about calorie balance. There are a lot of foods that, if people consume, can contribute to obesity," Lisa Katic of the California and Nevada Soft Drink Association said.

Opponents also say the bill would result in higher overhead costs that would be passed onto consumers.

SB 1000 now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee. If it becomes law, universal sugary drink labeling would be required by July 2015.


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