Big Soda

US: Bloomberg defends his big soda ban

After drawing howls of outrage, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has offered a full-throated defense of his proposed ban on large-size sugary sodas, calling criticism of the proposal “ridiculous” and saying his city is again leading the way in taking on critical health issues.

“I look across this country, and people are obese, and everybody wrings their hands, and nobody’s willing to do something about it,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

“I would criticize the federal government for not doing anything,” the health-conscious Bloomberg added on WOR radio’s John Gambling show. “I would criticize the state governments for not doing anything, but in the end, it’s the cities that do things.”

Bloomberg has proposed a far-reaching ban on sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces (about 500ml) in most restaurants, theaters, delis and vending carts throughout the city. It could take effect as early as next March, city officials have said.

The move against soft drinks is the latest in a string of public health initiatives promoted by the mayor. During his three terms in office the city has banned smoking in bars, restaurants and public places, banned artificial trans fats in restaurant food, and required calorie counts to be posted at fast-food outlets. Bloomberg also leads a campaign to cut salt in restaurant meals and packaged foods.

The soda measure will be introduced on June 12 at a New York City Board of Health meeting. The board is expected to pass the mayor’s measure, following a three-month public comment period.

Big soda companies object

Bloomberg said that the proposal was aimed towards the city’s poorer residents who may not have a sophisticated understanding of nutrition. He insisted that the measure is not targeted towards big soda companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.

“There’s nothing wrong with the products from PepsiCo and Coca-Cola,” the former-business-leader-turned-mayor said. “They are responsible companies. They are making stuff that people want to buy. This is not targeted towards those companies. This is targeted the consumer.”

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drink maker, assailed the proposal in a statement: “New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about beverages they purchase.”

Source: Reuters

The issue has evoked floods of “yays” and “nays” in the world media… some links….

America’s fast-food fat fist-fight

A confluence of food purity and health issues is galvanising corporate responses to sugary foods and drinks as well as “pink slime” meat additives. J BROOKS SPECTOR looks at the public outcry as well as the corporate responses to these questions in America over the past several days.

….But in the Big Apple, the soda industry is battling back against New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban. Their tactic has been a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times, picturing Bloomberg as an imperious nanny. The ad reads: “Bye Bye Venti: Nanny Bloomberg has taken his strange obsession with what you eat one step further. He now wants to make it illegal to serve ‘sugary drinks’ bigger than 16oz (454 grams). What’s next? Limits on the width of a pizza slice, size of a hamburger or amount of cream cheese on your bagel?” The advertisement adds taglines – “You only thought you lived in the land of the free” and “New Yorkers need a mayor, not a nanny.” The Daily Maverick

Mayor Bloomberg soda ban is a gimmick

When a high-profile politician makes tackling the country’s most dangerous health threat a top item on his agenda, public health people like me usually feel a certain contentment – that something is right in the world. But when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that his administration was planning to ban sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces, that catharsis I expected to feel wasn’t quite there – something was amiss.

Don’t get me wrong: Obesity is the most dangerous epidemic our country has faced since the 1918 flu pandemic. Yes, epidemic – don’t be fooled by its creeping pace or how seemingly “normal” obesity has become: In fact, these are precisely the reasons why we should be afraid … But this particular approach – banning large-sized sugary drinks – is both misguided and gimmicky. Commentary by Abdulrahman El-Sayed at PolicyMic

Govt regulation not the answer to American diet issue

Sugary carbonated drinks became popular in the 1700s in Europe, but a couple of drug store operators in the United States took the idea to new levels in the late 1800s with the prototypes of Coca Cola and Pepsi. Whether you call them “sodas” or “pop,” over the past century, these soft drinks have become mainstays of the American diet.

So, a proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to limit serving sizes in his city comes with good intentions. The plan would cap serving sizes at 16 ounces at restaurants, delis, sports arenas and movie theaters. But this is a slippery slope. Passing a law that can be applied fairly seems impossible. The current proposal would not apply to grocery stores or convenience stores, both major suppliers of soda. Other sugary drinks such as Frappuccinos would probably be exempted because of their dairy content, The Associated Press reported. Then there is the question of where does it end? Does the government detail regulations for the number of patties on a burger or ration doughnuts? Herald Dispatch

New York soda ban won’t work, marketing experts say

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s idea to ban the sale of sugary drinks (not juices or milkshakes) over 16 ounces from sports arenas, restaurants and other spots has many people complaining about the nanny state. Others say it just won’t work and that it targets poor people. No one wants to be targeted, and the reaction to being told what soft drinks they can buy will probably backfire, says David Just, a professor and food marketing specialist at Cornell University’s Charles H Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “It’s so unpopular before it even starts, this won’t even get a fair shake,” Just says. “Whenever people feel like they’re being restricted they begin to resist. And that creates a real headwind for a policy like this,” he said. Los Angeles Times

To Gulp or to Sip? Debating a crackdown on Big Sugary Drinks

Gas guzzlers, McMansions, Walmart, Costco: If one thing is certain about American consumer culture it is that bigger is better, especially if it is cheaper.

So more than a few New Yorkers took it especially hard Thursday when they learned that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wanted to take away their plus-size sodas in restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, arenas and mobile food carts, as a way, he said, of fighting obesity. New York Times