Food Labeling

Judge Won't Halt San Francisco's Forced Nanny State Soda Warnings

Did you know sugar helps make you fat? Of course you did.

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Coca-Cola Billboard
Credit: nffcnnr / photo on flickr

Everybody knows that eating too much sugar (and flopping around on the couch all the time instead of exercising) makes you fat, right? This is not a secret. And soda and drink manufacturers have responded to our increased understanding of the relationship between carbs and obesity by offering sugar-free versions of many of their drinks.

Not enough for San Francisco. But nothing is enough for the nannies of San Francisco. They passed a law last summer that requires all public sign-based advertising for sodas and sugary drinks to contain the following text taking up 20 percent of the space of the advertisement: "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco."

The beverage industry, along with trade associations representing retailers and outdoor advertising sign owners, challenged San Francisco in court. Not only is it compelled speech, they argued, it also obviously singles out only one possible contributor to obesity. Other unhealthy foods that have high amounts of calories (or even sugar) are not targeted for warnings.

But a federal judge has rejected a request at an injunction for the new law, determining that the mandated warning falls under a "legitimate action to protect public safety." Opponents will likely continue to fight it.

Consider for a moment what both the opponents and the judge, Edward Chen of the Northern District of California, are suggesting when their arguments are put together in tandem. Chen says it's true that sugary drinks can contribute to obesity, therefore San Francisco has a public health interest in requiring citizens to be warned. The soda representatives point out that there are a whole lot of other consumer products that have the same impact. We can see where this is going: This logic suggests that any food with lots of carbs or calories should have some sort of warning to consumers.

Down this path lies the madness of California's Proposition 65. Prop. 65, a statewide law, requires informing consumers (through signs) of the presence of possible toxins or carcinogens based on a list of government-controlled ingredients. The result has not helped protect consumers from exposure to cancer. Rather, the result is that there are Prop. 65 warning signs in every single business in the state of California, and for any that don't have them, there are lawyers looking to pounce. Prop. 65 instead tells Californians that toxins and carcinogens are everywhere, and death hovers over their shoulders as though they're all tertiary characters on Game of Thrones. It accomplishes utterly nothing to improve public health or safety. It's a lawsuit generator.

It's easy to predict something similar coming out of San Francisco: This obsessive need to meddle with the lives of others will lead to so many warnings on everything that people will have to simply ignore them entirely or else huddle in the corners of their homes out of fear. You better believe some lawyer interests are watching what's going on with this law and considering a ballot initiative to create a new Prop. 65 for sugar or fat content.

NEXT: Senate Votes to Allow 9/11 Families to Sue Saudi Arabia. Will the U.S. Be Sued Over Drone Strikes Next?

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  1. I find it interesting that politicians successfully sell themselves and their policies by telling their constituents how stupid they are.

    1. I’m not stupid, but everyone else…

      1. Hey, someone somewhere had to have taken Preparation H orally for them to have to actually put that warning on the package.

        1. I always just assumed that maybe someone had grabbed the Prep H without looking and thought they’d grabbed the toothpaste instead. The more time passes, however, the more I realize that in all likelihood someone somewhere really was that stupid.

        2. that used to be the case. now i think they have lawyers sit around and ponder hypothetical stupidity.

    2. The mindset of the prog is that the laws are never designed for them, but those other people who don’t know better.

      “…legitimate action to protect public safety.”

      I missed that disclaimer in the first amendment. Taking your rights away through special pleading one law or regulation at a time.

      1. It’s part of the hidden FYTW clause.

        1. “legitimate action to protect public safety”

          FYTW= LATPPS

      2. It’s to improve the General Welfare, so of course it’s totally justified.

  2. Prop 65 warnings have taught me that the State of California itself causes cancer.

  3. If there’s one thing the feds have nailed in the past several decades, it’s nutrition policy.

    1. Five or six times over, as a matter of fact. One might say they’re really good at nailing nutrition policy.

      1. But will their child be retarded?

      2. To a cross.

  4. So what the judge is saying is that since church attendance has been positively correlated with longer life that it would be ok for the government to mandate that some class of advertisers be compelled to extol the benefits of church attendance in 20% of their advertisements?

    1. Sure, it falls under the “legitimate public interest” exception to the Bill of Rights.

    2. Silly question. Any scientific or statistical finding that does not align with liberal values is automatically wrong. You should probably not be allowed to spread such propaganda either. Might be some kind of RICO violation in fact, if we can get a smart enough lawyer in here to redefine some basic words.

  5. So…

    Soda is a public health threat to San Francisco, but homeless people shitting on sidewalks isn’t?

    1. Homeless people rights are more sacred than the musty old Bill of Rights.

    2. Jesus Christ, this response is so right on the nose. A wrinkled up nose which just smelled human feces.

  6. Look, this is just California pointing out how stupid their voting populace is. They are literally so stupid that they don’t know these things, and all the proof the Legislature needs is that they still have jobs.

    Note that perhaps not all Californians are this stupid, merely enough of a majority that idiocy routinely wins the day.

  7. “Prop. 65 instead tells Californians that toxins and carcinogens are everywhere, and death hovers over their shoulders as though they’re all tertiary characters on Game of Thrones.”

    The most unrealistic thing about game of thrones is the older characters. No way people would survive that long in a world where the average human life expectancy is like 4 years.

    1. In the books many of the major characters were actually significantly younger than they were portrayed in the series.

  8. Right now some products I buy in PA have a warning the they “contain ingredients the state of California has found to cause cancer” because it costs more to have two different labels if you distribute nationally.

    So now I’m going to have another California warning on something I, a Pennsylvanian, am buying? Fuck you for telling me shit, California. You suck, your citizens suck, and thank god for the san andreas fault.

    1. thank god for the san andreas fault.

      I’ve always thought in Superman, Superman should have just gone ahead and let Lex Luther seed the San Andreas with nukes. It would have been an improvement.

  9. Each sign could also have bigger letters that read “YOUR TAX DOLLARS HARD AT WASTE:” and a big arrow pointing to the compelled speech.

    1. That’s what I would do.

      1. “The City and County of San Francisco think you’re too stupid to know this already, but we know you’re smart enough to realize: WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”

  10. How about a general warning for all food/ drink billboards:

    “Warning: Eating too much and sitting around on your ass like a couch sloth will turn you into a disgusting fat body. But it’s your life, so do what you want, just don’t say you weren’t warned.”

    Or a generic warning sign:

    “Warning: Someday you’re going to die. Living is hazardous to your health.”

  11. Odd stuff. Pretty much nobody uses the old-fashioned “real” sugar anymore. Is there any way at all, I mean in actual practical scientific terms, that this can’t be a political scam to favor various bribe-paying “artificial sweetener” companies that are giving you diabetes and turning your children into retards?

  12. Odd stuff. Pretty much nobody uses the old-fashioned “real” sugar anymore. Is there any way at all, I mean in actual practical scientific terms, that this can’t be a political scam to favor various bribe-paying “artificial sweetener” companies that are giving you diabetes and turning your children into retards?

    1. nah, it’s got to do with the relative prices of corn and sugarcane. mexican coke has cane sugar cuz the climate makes it cheaper to grow there. Id bet corn subsidies in this country have something to do with it too.

  13. Prop 65: It’s nearly impossible to avoid that sign. If you clean your floors with Pine-Sol you have to put up that sign. Seriously. And the sad thing is, every time a Californian sees that sign they shit their pants in fear. They only reason pot dispensaries don’t have that sign is because they are all dirty hippies that never clean their floors.

    1. And the sad thing is, every time a Californian sees that sign they shit their pants in fear.

      With respect, prog Californians (which I realize is a large majority) shat themselves. The rest of us roll our eyes and ignore these signs.

  14. flopping around on the couch all the time instead of exercising

    Flopping on the couch instead of exercising = couch potato.

    Flopping around on the couch = spastic? Sexy? Death throes?

  15. So where is the government-mandated warning that the government’s nutritional advice is dangerous to your health?

  16. We can see where this is going: This logic suggests that any food with lots of carbs or calories should have some sort of warning to consumers.

    Maybe that’s where the logic suggests the “should”, but the actual upshot is that it’s OK for gov’t to pick & choose which things to put warnings on, & which to leave them off of.

    The supporters of Prop. 65 badly underestimated the number of materials, including liquor, for instance, to which the criteria would apply. They were hoping for a more stringent standard so that the number of items would be manageable & would stick out like a sore thumb instead of merging into meaninglessness. Opponents were glad to have it turn out that practically everything would be known by Calif. to cause cancer, so they could all put up the signs & all be ignored.

    1. ^^This!^^

  17. Can’t wait for their warning labels on vaccines that state the possible relationship between autism and them. Something like Warning: May cause Autism. Why? Because there is as much science connection vaccines and autism and there is as soda with obesity: zero.

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