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National Restaurant Association - D.C. pols talk possible beverage ban

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D.C. pols talk possible beverage ban

A few local lawmakers in Washington, D.C., say a ban on large-sized sugary beverages, similar to the one passed last month in New York City, is a sweet idea for the nation's capital.

Council members Michael Brown and Vincent Orange recently discussed the idea of a ban during a debate between candidates campaigning for office in the District of Columbia. In addition to Brown and Orange, Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who in 2010 pushed for a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages but fell one vote short, said she, too, would support a ban on sugar-sweetened beverages in restaurants.

Council chairman Phil Mendelson and Mayor Vincent Gray both said the idea was worthy of consideration, but did not take a position on it.
The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, however, said it is still too early to tell if the council will formally propose a beverage ban and how it would affect foodservice operators in the district.

"This really is a very preliminary discussion right now," RAMW president Lynne Breaux said, "but we certainly are monitoring the situation closely. We'll have to wait and see."

In September, New York City's Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to ban the sale of sweetened beverages above 16 ounces at restaurants and other foodservice operations. The health board, which was appointed by the mayor, voted 8-0 (with one abstention) in favor of the ban, which prohibits restaurants, delis, food carts, stadium concession stands and movie theaters from selling soda, iced tea, energy drinks, some smoothies and certain coffee beverages, in large-sized containers. It is set to be enacted in March 2013.

Earlier this month the National Restaurant Association joined a lawsuit challenging the ban.

During New York City's public hearing on its beverage ban, Dr. Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, the NRA's director of nutrition, testified that banning sugar-sweetened beverages above 16 ounces at foodservice establishments was "biased and without any scientific substantiation to support it." She further stated "there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that restricting the size of beverage containers for sugary drinks ... will have any impact on obesity."

Besides the local lawmakers in Washington, D.C., politicians in Cambridge, Mass., also have discussed the possibility of a beverage ban in that city.

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