San Francisco calls for soda companies and Starbucks to place warning labels on their drinks

Could your favourite Starbucks drink be silently killing you? Authorities in San Francisco believe so. And they have even decided to do something concrete about it by introducing a controversial measure that calls for billboards to carry warning labels next to soft drink advertisements. This not only targets soda companies but also Starbucks and its various high-sugar beverages, particularly the beloved Frappaccino.

The frozen shake which is generally a blend of coffee, ice, milk and sugary flavored syrup, has more calories in it than a 140-calorie can of Coca-Cola.Even versions with nonfat milk and no whipped cream typically pass that threshold, according to Starbucks’s Web site. (A new summertime Frappuccino product, the “mini,” has 110 to 120 calories, depending on the type of milk used, according to the Web site.)

Billboards and posted advertising in San Francisco will soon be carrying these labels: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

The law has pitched Starbucks and its famous frappaccino into a battle between local politicians and soda companies, which claim that they are being unjustly targeted while other high-calorie foods such as doughnuts are getting away with high sugar content.

“These drinks are making people sick,” Wiener said in a statement, “and we need to make that clear to the public.”

The company has been forced “to evaluate the impact,” said Sanja Gould, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Starbucks.
While the new rules exempt some coffee drinks, that exception doesn’t apply to blender beverages such as Frappuccinos, according to Jeff Cretan, legislative aide to the measure’s sponsor, Supervisor Scott Wiener.
Companion ordinances also would prohibit sugary-beverage ads on city-owned property, and the government would no longer buy sweetened beverages. A second and final vote was set for June 16, after which the measure would go to the mayor.

The decision to approve the measures came after San Francisco voters in November rejected a ballot measure to impose a tax on sugary drinks. Voters in nearby Berkeley, meanwhile, approved a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks.

CalBev, the trade group representing the nonalcoholic beverage industry in the state, has called the San Francisco measure unfair.

“San Francisco’s board of supervisors chose the politically expedient route of scapegoating sweetened beverages instead of finding genuine and comprehensive solutions to the complex issues of obesity and diabetes,” said CalBev Executive Director Bob Achermann. “Singling out one industry, and one type of product, does nothing to educate people.”

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