SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Soda and juice sold in California may start to come with a safety warning telling people that drinking the beverage may lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.

Senate Bill 347 passed the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 5-1 (3 Senators did not vote).

If the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act passes and is signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, retailers and distributors would need to include the warning on the container, a vending machine, self-serve dispensing machine, or at the point-of-purchase. The safety warning would need to read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) may contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.” The label would need to be separate from other text must be “an icon comprised of an exclamation point within a triangle.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages are:

  • Non-alcoholic
  • Carbonated or non-carbonated
  • Contain added caloric sweeteners
  • Contain 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces

Sugar-sweetened beverages would not include:

  • 100% natural fruit juice or natural vegetable juice with no added caloric sweeteners
  • Dietary aids
  • Infant formula

Retailers and distributors who don’t comply would face fines up to $500. The money would go into a special fund, which would be used to enforce the new law.

The bill’s author, Senator Bill Monning (D- 17th District), cites California’s obesity rate as the reason this new law is needed. He says nearly 60% of adults, and 40% of children, are considered overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents ages two to 19 years are obese. Additionally, an estimated 46% of Californians suffer from pre-diabetes, with 9% diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The bill cited research into the link between obesity and sugar-sweetened beverages.

“According to the CDC, between 2011 and 2014, 63% of youth and 49% of adults drank an SSB on a given day. On average, U.S. youth consume 143 calories from an SSB and U.S. adults consume 145 calories from an SSB on a given day. A 2018 UCLA Center for Health Policy Research fact sheet states that, between 2013 and 2014, 31% of children ages 2-11 consumed one or more SSB per day.”

Similar bills to SB 347 have failed in previous sessions. Opponents have cited FDA statements saying added sugars are considered safe and can be “part of a healthy dietary pattern when not consumed in excess amounts.”

The list of groups opposing SB 347:

  • Almond Alliance of California
  • American Beverage Association
  • California Automatic Vendors Council
  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • California Food Processors
  • California Fuels and Convenience Association
  • California Grocers Association
  • California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
  • California Manufacturers & Technology Association
  • California Restaurant Association
  • California Retailers Association
  • Can Manufacturers Institute
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association
  • Juice Products Association
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • National Association of Theatre Owners
  • National Automatic Merchandising Association
  • Orange County Business Council
  • San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership
  • Valley Industry and Commerce Association
  • One Individual

Several other bills have been introduced this session relating to sugar-sweetened beverages.

Previous efforts to regulate the industry, including adding a tax per fluid ounce, did not pass of of committee.