The state Senate voted 21-13 Thursday to approve a bill that would require warning labels on the front of all bottles and cans of soda and other sugary drinks sold in California.
SB 1000 by state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, now goes to the Assembly. If it eventually becomes law, all sugary drink containers would display a warning label – developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts – by July 1, 2015, reading: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”
“Today’s vote is a major step toward warning people about the profoundly harmful effects of consuming liquid sugar,” Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a sponsor of the bill, said in a news release. “SB 1000 supports consumers’ right to know the facts about diabetes, undiluted by beverage industry spin.”
The bill’s supporters say overwhelming scientific research shows that liquid sugar is uniquely harmful because it gets absorbed so quickly – much faster than solid food – overloading the pancreas and causing the liver to store the sugar as fat, leading to fatty liver disease. This contributes directly to diabetes, which has tripled in the U.S. over the last 30 years.
The California-Nevada Beverage Association issued a statement Thursday saying that “putting government warning labels on more than 500 beverages will do nothing to change personal behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles. The last thing California needs is more warning labels. Senate Bill 1000 will only feed the confusion surrounding hundreds of beverages without changing personal habits.”
Foes of the bill say the state shouldn’t waste time and money as the federal Food and Drug Administration undertakes its first major nutrition-label update in 20 years. They also say the bill has confusing exemptions, and obesity and diabetes have many risk factors such as genetics, age, stress and even lack of sleep.
But a recent Field Poll found 74 percent of California voters, including a majority of Republicans and independents, support warning labels on sugary drinks.