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Soda Ban Could Affect Supermarkets

NEW YORK New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial soda ban was approved by the NYC Board of Health here Thursday.

The ban on sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces takes effect March 12, 2013, and will impact restaurants, food carts, movie theater concession stands and other establishments that receive an inspection grade from the health department.

Fast food restaurants with self-serve drink fountains will no longer be permitted to stock cups larger than 16-ounces. Fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, zero-calorie sodas and milk shakes are exempt.

While grocery stores will not be restricted under the rule, they could be affected as drink makers adjust their standard bottle size, said Seth Goldman, co-founder and TeaEO of Honest Tea. 

At 70-calories per 16-ounce serving, Honest Tea’s top-selling Honey Green Tea contains 20 more calories than is permitted under the ban, so it must adjust its 16.9-ounce bottle size.

"It's frustrating because we've been a company very focused on offering healthy and lower-calorie drinks, so for our product to end up banned is counterproductive," Goldman said.

Read more: NRA Takes Aim at NYC Soda Ban

While it's still exploring its options, Honest Tea may change its standard bottle size across the country, he said. Other solutions like filling the bottles with .9 ounce less liquid, or carrying two different bottle sizes, will likewise complicate distribution.

“It’s the right motivation, but the wrong solution,” said Goldman of the ban.

Meanwhile members of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, comprising individuals, restaurants and other businesses, are exploring ways to challenge the board’s ruling.

“Proposals like the soda ban discourage new business and hurt our reputation as the dining capital of the world,” said Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association, in a statement.

“Reducing obesity is an important goal, but we want to partner with government to come up with effective ways to confront the problem. What we don’t need is more burdensome regulation making it harder for businesses to function and skewing the competitive landscape.”

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