Imagine you are at the beach in Malibu. The weather is perfect, the ocean is shimmering, and you are thirsty. You buy a Coke from a nearby bodega and prepare to take a hefty swig, only to be met with the following text:
"STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”
This California dream could become reality under a new bill proposed in the state's legislature late last week. Citing obesity research, state Sen. Bill Monning, a Democrat from Carmel, proposed that the warning labels to be affixed to all containers of soda and juice that have added sugar and 75 or more calories per 12 ounces. The "added" sugar aspect means Monning would let orange juice slide. Sunny Delight, however, would not be so lucky.
Oh, you don't frequent beachside bodegas, you say? Rest assured, Big Label will find you, as the LA Times reports:
At fast food restaurants with self-serve soda dispensers, the label would be on the dispenser. In a movie theater or business where the dispenser is behind the counter and used by employees, the label would be on the counter. In sit-down restaurants, the label might be on the menus.
In many ways, California lives up to its stereotype as a kale-muncher's paradise, and it tends to set the tone for food-related public health policy nationwide. After New York, it was one of the first states to label fast-food menu items with calorie counts, a measure that was later included in the Affordable Care Act. It began banning soft drinks in schools more than a decade ago, and since 2007 it has been limiting the amount of fat, sugar, and calories in snack foods sold in school vending machines.