Barclays quick to adopt large-beverage ban

September 13, 2012 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner, at a City Hall press conference, announced yesterday afternoon that Barclays Center will immediately adopt the new regulations on the sale of sugary beverages adopted by the city’s Board of Health earlier in the day.

Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, will be the first major venue in the city to voluntarily comply with the new regulations.

“As the newest sports and entertainment venue in Brooklyn, Barclays Center is thrilled to work with the mayor and the city to help achieve the mayor’s public health goals,” said Ratner.

The new rule, which will go into effect on March 12, 2013, says sugary beverages with more than 25 calories per eight ounces can only be sold in portions of 16 ounces or less.

The regulation will apply to any food service establishment that is regulated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas.

Basically, the ban covers businesses that, at least in part, prepare their own foods.

Part of the criticism of the measure is that it applies to some food establishments, but not others. For example, it will apply to Dunkin’ Donuts, because its employees prepare the customers’ coffee, but not to 7-11, where customers themselves add milk, sweeteners, etc.

“This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I raise a 16-ounce cup and toast Barclays for joining us today and implementing this plan six months ahead of schedule.”

The administration first proposed the new regulation in May to combat the growing obesity epidemic. Health experts from across the country have noted sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The ban was opposed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several other local legislators, including Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James, who felt it would penalize small business.

Speaking to Eagle staffers last month, James said that many parents, especially those with large families, buy large sizes of soda when they go to the movies, then share them with their children.

The ban, she said, would also penalize small groceries that may have a hot-dog grill or prepared-food trays, even if they prepare less than 10 percent or so of their food.

Beverages that are less than 25 calories per 8 ounces, more than 50 percent milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice are not impacted. This was another cause for complaint – “Because they contain dairy, Starbucks lattes, even though they’re loaded with sugar, are not affected,” a representative of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a beverage-industry trade group, told the Eagle.

The proposal was introduced at the June 12, 2012 Board of Health meeting and was available for public comment through July 24, when a public hearing was held before the Board of Health. The board received more than 38,000 written comments, and 55 individuals testified.

The regulation will be enforced through the city’s regular restaurant inspection process, according to the city.

An analysis by NYU School of Medicine researchers showed that that if consumers switched from sugary 32-ounce drinks to 16-ounce drinks, they would consume 63 fewer calories every time they bought a fast-food meal, according to the Mayor’s Office.

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