Skip to main content

CA Bill Would Require Warning Labels on Sugary Beverages

News  |  By Doug Desjardins  
   February 19, 2017

Similar measures, aimed at preventing obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay, failed to advance in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

This story originally appeared in California Healthfax.

A new bill introduced in the state legislature last week would require California beverage manufacturers to place warning labels on sugary beverages sold in the state.

State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) introduced Senate Bill 300, which would require manufacturers to post health warning labels on all sugar-sweetened beverages with more than 75 calories per 12-ounce serving.

The warning labels would read: "Drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay."

"I am doing this so that consumers will be given more information to help them make more healthful choices," said Monning. "Strong and compelling scientific evidence clearly shows drinking sodas, sport drinks, and other sugary drinks heightens your risk of preventable, chronic disease."

Warning labels could help reduce the prevalence of health problems like type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease that begin at an early age, said Robert Lustig, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the UC San Francisco Division of Endocrinology.

Time to Eliminate Sugary Brands from Healthcare

"We have warning labels on alcohol," said Lustig. "We need them on sugar for the same reason."

The American Beverage Association (ABA) is opposed to SB 300 and said the bill would require manufacturers to include "misleading warnings" on its products.

"American beverage companies already provide fact-based, easy-to-use calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can, and pack we produce, and we are placing calorie awareness messages on 3 million vending machines, self-serve fountain dispensers, and retail coolers nationwide," the ABA stated.

"Misleading warnings about common beverages will do nothing for real public health challenges like obesity and diabetes."

SB 300 will probably face an uphill battle, given the past performance of similar bills in California. In 2016, Monning introduced a similar bill—Senate Bill 203—that failed to advance out of the Senate Health Committee. Similar bills introduced in 2014 and 2015 also failed to advance.

Other efforts to curb sales of sugary beverages in the state have had mixed results. In 2014, voters in Berkeley approved a soda tax measure that charges retailers 1 cent for every ounce of sugary drinks sold within the city limits.

In 2012, voters in the cities of Richmond and El Monte rejected ballot measures calling for a similar tax on sugary drinks.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.