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National Restaurant Association - NRA says NYC drinks ban is confusion in a cup

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NRA says NYC drinks ban is confusion in a cup

The National Restaurant Association says restaurateurs in New York City will face numerous challenges in complying with the proposed beverage ban expected to be approved by the Board of Health and enacted into law.

According to Joy Dubost, Ph.D. R.D., the NRA's director of nutrition and healthy living, several of the association's members have indicated they will experience operational challenges in complying with the regulation as it is currently written.

Dubost, who has been working with various members that would be affected by the ban, said that under the proposed rule restaurants may not offer self-service cups above 16 ounces even if the customer says that he or she intends to fill it with a sugar-free drink, and that the only way an operator would be able to provide such a drink to customers is through the drive-thru window where self-serve is not available.

"Restaurants shouldn't have to be placed in the position of having to have different stations for different sizes of drinks or have to direct customers to different stations depending on the size and type of drink, especially if it is not deemed a sweetened beverage under the regulation," she said.

Dubost further contended that the ban would challenge the operational efficiency at some quickservice restaurants that customize their customers' drinks so they can move more quickly through the restaurant.

"In some of those restaurants, at the customer's request, coffee and tea are served with cream and sweetener already added to the cup," she said. "But under the proposed ban, an operator would not be allowed to add the sweetener to beverages larger than 16 ounces. It would not, however, limit the amount of sweetener the customer could add to his or her own drink."

The restaurants' customization process, she said, is the same as if the customers add the sweetener themselves.

Dubost also cited several other concerns involved with the proposed rule, including accounting for the impact of ice in computing beverage volume or cup size; accounting for room left in the top of a cup for milk, cream or sugar; and understanding why violations would be included in food-safety scoring.

"We believe that if the proposed ban is approved, it will result in customer confusion and operational difficulties," she said. "We hope the Board of Health will not approve the ban but if so, they will take into account the challenges of implementation involved."

The board of health is expected to meet and vote on the proposed ban Sept. 13, which the NRA will be attending. If enacted, it would prohibit the sale of sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, delis, concessions at movie theaters and stadiums, food carts and other venues throughout the New York City area.

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