Dear JPA Members:
On Monday night, a bill was introduced before the Baltimore City Council that would require warning labels for sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city. Food service facilities, including restaurants and retailers, certain billboard advertisements and transit ads would be required to post the message: "Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes." A $500 civil fine for noncompliance will be enforced.
According to the bill's text, the law would apply to beverages with caloric sweeteners, although the definition of caloric sweetener does not include natural fruit or vegetable juice concentrate. Additionally,100% fruit and vegetable juices would be exempt from the law. However, fruit drinks and juice drinks would be impacted.
JPA Staff has contacted the Maryland, Delaware, DC Beverage Association (MDDBA) for details on the proposal and to plan coordination of efforts. A hearing on the bill is expected in April, although it could come before. It remains to be seen whether the bill will gain traction, due the multitude of other pressing challenges that Baltimore is facing. JPA will continue to monitor the issue, will participate in coalition efforts with the MDDBA, as appropriate, and will keep members apprised of further developments.
Please contact us if you have any questions.