New NYC Rule Could See Sugar Warning Labels on Food, Drinks

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
April 26, 2024Health
New NYC Rule Could See Sugar Warning Labels on Food, Drinks
Granulated sugar is poured using a spoon in Philadelphia on Sept. 12, 2016. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

New regulations on food labeling may soon be coming to New York City. A new law, set to come into effect later this year, could see warning labels placed next to sugary foods and drinks in chain restaurants and coffee shops across the city.

The law specifically targets food businesses with 15 or more storefronts. These businesses must display a warning icon consisting of a black and white spoon loaded with sugar, which needs to be placed next to any menu items containing at least 50 grams of added sugar.

The warning label will also need to be accompanied by a written note that reads:

“Warning: indicates that the added sugar content of this item is higher than the total daily recommended limit of added sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet (50g).

“Eating too many added sugars can contribute to type 2 diabetes and weight gain.”

A can of regular soda contains around 40 grams of added sugar.

The rule amendment, set to initially take effect on June 19 for prepackaged food items, was initiated by the city’s health department last week, with a public hearing scheduled for late May. The rule will commence on December 1 for other items.

The law was approved last year by city officials and Mayor Eric Adams. Speaking on a radio interview with 1010 WINS on April 25, the mayor expressed strong support for the measure.

“We have an obligation and responsibility as a city, not only to react to the healthcare crisis, but to be proactive to prevent some of the healthcare issues. Sugar is one of the leading causes of health-related items and issues and diseases,” Mr Adams said.

“I say over and over again in my personal journey of health, ‘food is medicine,’” added Mr. Adams, who fluctuates between veganism and pescetarianism.

Processed sugar has been linked to a variety of major health issues, including, most notably, diabetes, as well as liver conditions, obesity, and certain types of cancer.

Several recent studies have shown that excessive sugar consumption in test subjects increases the risk of cancer recurrence and mortality by between 45 and 65 percent. It can also alter the metabolic profile, triggering inflammation and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for tumor development.

The proposed rule isn’t the first time a New York City mayor has gotten involved in public health policy. Previous efforts included those of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who banned artificial trans fats in chain restaurants and required these establishments to post calorie counts on their menus.

Another example saw Mr. Adams’ predecessor, Bill de Blasio, push a rule that notifies customers about high sodium content in foods.

However, not everyone is convinced by this approach. Critics have long argued that such regulations amount to government overreach, with elected officials turning the city into a “nanny state.”

“It’s the nanny state becoming the nanny city,” said state Conservative Party chairman Gerard Kassar.

Nonetheless, the proposed legislation sits well with health advocates who have expressed strong support for it.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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