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Is The Soda Ban A Good Idea?

Is The Soda Ban A Good Idea?

If you’re interested in healthy eating – or if you live in the New York City metropolitan area – you’re no doubt aware of the recent controversy surrounding the city’s ban on soda and other sugary drinks. The ban, passed in September, mandates that restaurants and concession stands must sell the beverages in 16-ounce servings or smaller.

My first reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Why would anyone in their right mind feel the need to drink more than 16 ounces of soda in one sitting? And when they make a habit of this, we as a society are negatively impacted by the costs of their hospital bills.

But then I began to reconsider. Is this really that different from the USDA’s ban on raw almonds? In 2007, an outbreak of salmonella in raw almonds caused 33 people to become ill. There were no deaths. As a result, the USDA mandated that all almonds be pasteurized, which of course severely detracts from their nutritional value. Shockingly, many raw almonds are pasteurized using a dangerous chemical known as propylene oxide.

According to the Alliance for Natural Health, the material safety data sheet for propylene oxide warns that the chemical:

“Causes gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. May cause central nervous system depression, characterized by excitement, followed by headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea. Advanced stages may cause collapse, unconsciousness, coma and possible death due to respiratory failure. Aspiration of material into the lungs may cause chemical pneumonitis, which may be fatal … May cause reproductive and fetal effects. Laboratory experiments have resulted in mutagenic effects. May cause heritable genetic damage.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that’s pretty scary. Okay, salmonella is no laughing matter. But rather than take a look at why the salmonella outbreak occurred in the first place, the USDA tried to be our nanny by supposedly “protecting” us from the risk of raw almonds. What we really needed was more information. The vast majority of the time, raw almonds are perfectly safe. They are much more nutritious than pasteurized almonds – and I would venture to say they are certainly safer than anything treated with propylene oxide.

Similarly, with sugary beverages, what we need is greater access to the truth. Why do people drink soda? Advertising (at least in large part). What we need is a campaign to promote the truth about what we eat. How do we accomplish this? We need to get corporate interests out of Washington. We need to promote cottage food laws so that small businesses can begin to reintroduce real food into their communities and promote local food systems.

If people are informed – rather than misled – about the health effects of their food and where it comes from and they have access to local, healthy food, they are much more likely to make healthy choices. They will not want to drink more than 16 ounces of soda at one time. Soda bans are not entirely bad, but they are not a real solution, either. They are merely a band-aid fix. What we really need is  a societal push to make the truth about our food more transparent and to lower barriers to entry for those who want to start small food businesses.

 

 

Related:
Drink Downsizing: Is the Proposed NYC Soda Ban a Good Thing?
9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda
Quenching Our Thirst for Soda

Read more: Drinks, Eating for Health, Food, News & Issues, , , , ,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

58 comments

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12:08PM PDT on Mar 12, 2013

I think they should teach the ingredients and effects of soda in school.

7:34AM PST on Feb 15, 2013

this stuff should be banned altogether....production of this crap should be stopped, same with tobacco, there is NOTHING healthy about it it just earns huge money to corporates, and that's it.. but no, you have someone right away saying its constricting their freedom....you cant go around killing ppl because law forbids that, is that constricting your freedom too?
yes we all make our choices but that doesn't mean the bad stuff shouldn't be banned or at least steps taken to prevent the harm!

6:30PM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Education of young people is a better option, but very difficult. A ban will only make them more determined to prove they can defy the ban.

9:21PM PST on Nov 14, 2012

I would rather they told the soda companies they have to clean up their act!

8:32PM PST on Nov 7, 2012

Put a sign with the information next to the soda machine and let people decide. Natural selection.

8:20AM PST on Nov 6, 2012

I don't think they should infringe on people's choices, but for me i think pop is gross. Its nasty and too sugary. Its also loaded with fake ingredients.

7:39AM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

OH - and while we're at it, if Bloomberg REALLY cared about the health of his citizens, how about he guarantees waitstaff PAID SICK DAYS and guarantees those staff that they won't lose their job if they become ill.
I can't tell you how often I've had to go to work, snotty, sneezy, nose-dripping and had to serve food with hands I WASN'T ALLOWED TO WASH in order to keep my job.
Call in sick, you're fired.
How about someone talking about that kind of public health threat?
Then I could take some of these types who think the ban is a "good" or "great" idea seriously rather than laugh at them.

7:31AM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

That's why I'll always go for a closed bottle or can. Yeah, yeah, - - I know about the BPA, the toxins, etc. etc.
BUT - I'll take the poisons I know are there over the ones I don't, LOL!

7:29AM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

Well, guess what? Some of us buy those larger sizes for a simple reason - They're a financially better deal!!
I really glad that everyone here can afford one 16-oz after another, but I find that I need to purchase the larger sizes because I would expect them to last a whole lot longer.
Now is it necessary that my large, economical purchase be soda? NO.
But this should be MY CHOICE!
I'm still angry about enforced seatbelt laws. South Park did an episode about how folks were mandated to wear seatbelts and helmets while on the toilet. It is seen as parody now, but the fact that this ban (on large soda) got passed makes me wonder. How much else will the gov't protect us from ourselves?
I saw "The Greening of America" years ago and recall the AL sheriff that was interviewed. He said something quite telling - "The people will only be policed as much as they will let us".
That's scary, especially in light of the fact that there are people here who would take it upon themselves to judge what I should be allowed to do. I don't mind being influenced to make better decisions, but MANDATED to do so smacks of the kind of gov't. that everyone I know fears.
AND BTW, I used to work at one of these places. They're supposed to regularly CLEAN THE TUBING that the soda syrup comes through. Let me tell you something - THEY DON'T.
If you saw all the insect waste, scum and mold that forms in these tubes which don't get regularly replaced, you'd NEVER drink one again. That's wh

7:24AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

While I fully agree that the root of the problem needs to be addressed through education and access to real food, the ban on soda sizes larger than 16 ounces is completely reasonable.
It really can't be compared to a ban on all raw almonds. It isn't a "ban on soda", so soda doesn't need to be replaced with something potentially more harmful. It is a ban on outrageous sizes, just like McDonald's getting rid of supersize. Why would you need more than 16 ounces of soda? Other drinks aren't usually served larger than that at restaurants. And anyone is free to order (and pay for) a second drink, or go home and buy a case of soda and drink it all.
Education is important, but until the information becomes widespread we can mitigate the problem through measures like this one. And it doesn't mean that the USDA is being our "nanny." It means that they are protecting citizens from companies that have their profits at heart and not the interests of the people, just like when they require warning labels and anti-pollution measures.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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