Foodservice Equipment Reports

Berkeley Nixes Sugary Sodas

While San Francisco voters approved that hike in the minimum wage to $15 by 2018, they rejected a 2-cent tax on sugary drinks. Not so in neighboring Berkeley, Calif., which became the first American city to pass a law taxing sugary drinks, including sodas.

More than three-quarters of the votes cast were in favor of the law, known as Measure D, which will place a 1-cent-an-ounce tax on soft drinks. It only needed a majority of yes votes to pass.

Proponents of the Berkeley tax say the fee will help curb consumption of sodas, energy drinks and sweetened iced teas, beverages they say are contributing to the nation's obesity epidemic.

The argument echoes calls made by other cities that also have tried to pass soda taxes but have failed in the face of well-funded opposition from soda manufacturers. The most notable example is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempted ban on large-size sugary beverages, which was blocked by a New York state judge.

“Berkeley has a proud history of setting nationwide trends, such as non-smoking sections in restaurants and bars, curb cuts for wheelchairs, curbside recycling and public-school food policies,” said Vicki Alexander, co-chair of the group backing Measure D, in a statement.

But Roger Salazar, a representative of the $10 million opposition campaign funded by soft-drink manufacturers, asserted that the Berkeley vote meant little nationally.

“Berkeley is very eclectic,” he told the Associated Press. “It doesn't look like Anytown USA.”

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