Mayor Bloomberg’s Obesity Task Force has identified sugar sweetened drinks as a major contributor to obesity in New York City. In an attempt to curb ever increasing drink sizes available to the consumer and “reacquaint New Yorker’s with ‘human size’ portions,” Mayor Bloomberg recently proposed an initiative that will outlaw all sugar-sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces from sale in NYC beginning this next March.
Though Mayor Bloomberg foresees no adverse effect on local businesses (suggesting that owners could charge more if sales drop) the costs of compliance and the proposal’s potential effect on sales could realistically impact small business owners subject to the ban. The big question is: which businesses specifically fall within the proposed regulation?
In short: all locations that fall under the regulation of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. These establishments will no longer be able to sell the popular 20 ounce sized bottles of sugary drinks (defined as all beverages 25 calories or more per eight ounces, not including fruit juices, dairy, or alcoholic beverages) that have become the standard. Exempt from this ban are convenience and grocery stores, vending machines, and newsstands. However, all delis and bodegas regulated by the department of health—easily identifiable by their letter ratings posted in the window—are subject to the ban. In other words you’ll still be able to purchase a 64 ounce Double Gulp from your local 7/11, but not a 20 ounce bottle from your local corner store.
Further, all NYC restaurants and fast food chains will have to comply and serve drinks in 16 ounce cups, regardless of if the drink is diet. That means medium and large sized beverages you’re used to seeing as part of the typical value meal will have to be replaced. Because stadiums also fall within the regulation of the Department of Health, souvenir soda cups will have to be axed or downsized to comply. Gone will be the massive sized popcorn and soda combos familiar to any movie goer, as NYC movie theaters are also subject to the new proposal.
Whether the new proposal goes into effect next March, or joins other Bloomberg backed anti-soda initiatives (a proposed tax on soda sales, and restrictions on the use of food stamps to purchase soda both failed to clear the State Legislature and FDA, respectively) remains to be seen. Until then small business owners should be aware if their compliance is required, and use the time to prepare for the proposal’s impact accordingly.
Follow the link below to a recent New York Times article for further information on this subject: