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National Restaurant Association - NYSRA opposes mayor's ban on large sugar-sweetened drinks

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NYSRA opposes mayor's ban on large sugar-sweetened drinks

New York City restaurant owners are taking a big gulp following Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal Wednesday to ban the sale of soft drinks and other sugared beverages served in cups larger than 16 fluid ounces at restaurants, food carts, delis, theaters, stadiums, arenas and many other venues.

"We appreciate the Mayor’s concern for public health, but the current proposal goes much too far," said Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the NYC Chapter of New York State Restaurant Association. "No one understands private enterprise and business better than the mayor. People want choices. Restaurants are serving the public what it wants and we all hope that will continue," he said. "If we want New York City to remain the restaurant capital of the world, we must stop placing these burdensome restrictions on what can and can't be served here."

Bloomberg made his announcement May 30, saying soda, sweetened iced tea and energy drinks would be subject to the ban, but that diet sodas and milk-based drinks would not.

"This mayor… his attack on this industry has been incredible,” said Rick J. Sampson, NYSRA's president and CEO. "If he really is concerned about good health, then why is he exempting grocery and c-stores from this [ban]? The whole thing is ludicrous, crazy!"

Sampson said he has not yet seen the mayor’s entire proposal to ban the large-sized drinks.

The NYSRA chief also suggested there has been talk that the ban would be tied to the New York City Health Department’s current letter grade health inspection system, and that in addition to $200 fines, restaurant operators selling the big beverages could earn an extra 30 to 40 points on their health inspections, which could lead to receiving a failing grade.

"We are waiting to [see] the rest of this; we've so far only been getting pieces, parts of [the proposal]," Sampson said. "Obviously, this is now an issue we will be taking up. We’re coming out of this thing swinging."

The proposed ban is expected to be submitted to the New York City Board of Health June 12, where it is expected to go through a three-month comment period before being voted on.

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