Soda ban to put damper on group dining

Published on: Feb 28, 2013

NEW York City's ban on serving sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 oz. may have the unintended consequence of "killing" certain children's birthday and other parties and family dinners, according to recent reports in the city's local newspapers.

This would be because many of these occasions involve pizza delivery that's often accompanied by two-liter bottles of soft drinks, which would be prohibited by the ban. Most pizza places in New York charge $3 for a two-liter bottle versus $6.00-7.50 for six 12 oz. cans -- an approximate equivalent to the two-liter bottle -- which would put a damper on pizza parties and ordered-in family pizza occasions, according to the reports.

It would also affect bowling alleys and other spots that serve soda in pitchers to large groups.

"It's ludicrous," said Robert Bookman, an attorney representing the New York City Hospitality Alliance, explaining that a person can go into a grocery store and buy a two-liter bottle of soda, but Domino's or Pizza Hut can't deliver the same bottle to someone's home.

The ban, proposed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and adopted by the city's health department, prohibits serving sugary beverages -- defined as any drink containing more than 25 calories per 8 oz. serving -- in bottles, cups or other containers that are larger than 16 oz. (Feedstuffs, Oct. 1, 2012).

It bans such sales by delis, restaurants, street carts, movie theaters and entertainment and sports venues.

However, it does not ban such sales by convenience and grocery stores and in drive-thrus, which means that a customer inside a fast-food restaurant is limited in the size of soda he or she can order, but the same customer ordering in the drive-thru is not restricted.

It also does not prohibit a person from ordering two 16 oz. drinks.

The ban becomes effective March 13, but health department officials noted that, while they will hand out notifications of violations beginning on March 13, they will not prosecute violators for the first three months (Feedstuffs, Jan. 21).

Meanwhile, a coalition of beverage, restaurant and theater interests in New York City has asked a court to enjoin the ban until a lawsuit seeking to overturn it can be tried.

The New York City chapters of the Hispanic Federation and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have joined the lawsuit, and both maintain that the ban disproportionately affects blacks and Hispanics who are owners of small delis and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg has suggested that the New York legislature should adopt a statewide ban on large sugary drinks modeled on the city's law.

Volume:85 Issue:09

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