I have an op-ed (about the FDA’s handling of melamine in U.S. infant formula) and a Food Matters column (answering questions about salt) in the San Francisco Chronicle this week, and a response to a question from Eating Liberally about Governor Paterson’s proposed tax on soft drinks. Enjoy!
Currently browsing posts about: Soft drinks
Here’s the proposed statute. The relevant section reads:
“Create Sales Tax on Soft Drinks. Imposes an additional 18 percent rate of sales and compensating use taxes on fruit drinks that contain less than seventy percent of natural fruit juice and non-dietetic soft drinks, sodas and beverages. By increasing the price, it will discourage individuals, especially children and teenagers, from excessive consumption of these beverages. Revenues will be directed for health care initiatives.”
And here’s the American Beverage Association’s predictable response: hurts the middle class, nobody wants it, no science or logic behind it. The New York Times refers to what’s happening as a “spirited debate” (I am a participant).
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. For example, the maker of a carbonated juice drink wrote me to complain that her product, which is 50% juice and taxable, contains under 70 calories per 8-ounces in comparison to non-taxed 100% fruit juice at 110 calories/8 ounces. Obesity is about calories, no? Or is it really about the kinds of products people habitually drink?
Governor Paterson says he can raise $404 million in state revenues with a 15% tax on soft drinks (but not diet sodas, juices, milk, or water). I’m curious to know what you think of this idea. Please weigh in.
Andrew Martin begins his account of the latest Pepsi quarterly report like this: “Tap water is making a comeback. That’s bad news for PepsiCo’s profits.” Sales are down 10%. Why? People aren’t buying as much soda or bottled water. Score one for the environmental movement.
The Environmental Working Group says the plastic bottles are bad for the environment but that’s not all. Its latest report tests the waters and finds plenty of fertilizer and drug residues in them. Oh great.
Sandja, who works for a PR agency, wants me to know about Embodi: “What if you could have all the health and longevity benefits of red wine without the negative effects of alcohol? In fact, what if it came in the form of a delicious and antioxidant-rich fruit drink that you could enjoy daily?
I love the idea that red wine has special health benefits, especially at a really nice dinner. But here comes Sandbox Industries, a company devoted to dreaming up brilliant new business ideas, one of which is Embodi, a non-alcoholic soft drink fortified with polyphenol antioxidants like the ones in red wine. The ads say “now you can have all the benefits of red wine without the headache.” But I thought it was the alcohol in wine, beer, and spirits that was most strongly associated with reduction in heart disease risk.
Alas, Sandja did not send the Nutrition Facts labels and they are not on the website so what is in this drink is a mystery. But that’s not its point. It’s a business venture.
Update, September 4: After reading my post, the Embodi PR folks forwarded their well hidden Nutrition Facts label–90 calories per bottle from 22 grams of sugars. The ingredients? “Water, organic fruit juice blend (organic white grape, organic red grape, organic apple, organic pomegranate, and organic pear juices from concentrate), grape pomace extract, and natural flavors.” No wonder they don’t put this information on the website.
Update, September 6: Oops. The PR folks wrote again and I stand partially corrected. The Nutrition Facts label is indeed on the website. You have to click on the bottle label and up it pops. But the ingredient list part of the label is not (or if it is, I can’t find it). Sandja writes: “There is complete transparency of ingredients and nutrition facts. The grape pomace extract is what holds the health benefits.” I’d say partially transparent.” And the pomace extract is second-to-last on the ingredient list so there can’t be much of it.
My Canadian correspondent, Yoni Freedhoff, tells me (and his blog readers) that Coca-Cola has an ad in the Canadian Medical Journal assuring doctors that the company has not marketed its products to children for the last 50 years. This is news to me. Aren’t you happy to know this?
The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of Coke and Pepsi and other top brands slipped last year by a percentage point or two. They can’t keep up in the face of rising commodity costs, prices, and the popularity of vitamin waters and sports drinks. The drop might seem like a blip but these companies have stockholders to please and are supposed to be growing and increasing their sales every quarter. So it’s no surprise that the WSJ is taking such a hard look at the declining bottom lines. Expect to see even more production of functional drinks, sweetened and not, and at higher prices, of course.
I’m getting lots of e-mails about Coca-Cola’s co-sponsorship of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Instutite’s HeartTruth Red Dress campaign to increase women’s awareness of their risk for heart disease. You can find out more about Diet Coke’s sponsorship on the Coca-Cola website. Here’s my favorite line in the news release: “Participation by Coca-Cola does not imply endorsement by DHHS/NIH/NHLBI.” Really? I’ll bet Coke hopes people will think it does.
But that’s not all. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is partnering with Pepsi. Pepsi, it says, “will work with ADA to develop consumer and professional education programs, and tackle nutrition research questions.” How’s that for unbiased?