Senate Health Committee Moves Beverage Warning Bill

The Senate Health Committee yesterday moved a California Chamber of Commerce-opposed mandating a state-only labeling requirement for sugar-sweetened drinks.

CalChamber is opposed to SB 347 (Monning; D-Carmel) because it could increase frivolous liability claims and exposes beverage manufacturers and food retailers to fines and penalties.

SB 347 is identical to legislation from 2014, 2015 and 2018 that failed to pass the Assembly.

The text and scope of the warning proposed in SB 347 is similar in many respects to San Francisco’s warning label law, which was declared unconstitutional on January 31 in a unanimous decision of the 11 judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In a concurrence opinion, Judge Ikuta wrote, “This warning does not provide ‘purely factual and uncontroversial information about the terms under which . . . services will be available.’ The factual accuracy of the warning is disputed in the record.

“Among other things, the warning is contrary to statements by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] that added sugars are ‘generally recognized as safe,’ and ‘can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern’ when not consumed in excess amounts.”

It should also be recognized that businesses in California offer thousands of beverages for sale from across the globe, imported from small and large companies alike. Placing the burden on business owners to affix warning labels on their products before the point of sale, as well as hang signs and label menus would be an expensive and onerous mandate.

Key Vote

SB 347 passed the Senate Health Committee on March 27, 5-1. It now heads to Senate Appropriations Committee; no hearing date is set.

Ayes: Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Leyva (D-Chino), Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Monning (D-Carmel), Pan (D-Sacramento).

Noes: J. Stone (R-Riverside County)

Not Voting: Grove (R-Bakersfield), Hurtado (D-Sanger), S. Rubio (D-Baldwin Park).

Staff Contact: Valerie Nera

Valerie Nera
Valerie Nera specializes in advocacy on agriculture, water, resources, crime, and banking and finance issues for the CalChamber. She joined the CalChamber staff in 1978 as a legislative assistant on agricultural issues. She also has lobbied air, environmental and privacy issues for the CalChamber. She earned a B.A. with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. See full bio.