American Beverage Association

Sip & Savor - Recent Posts

Science Says It All

Low- and no-calorie sweeteners are a hot topic in the media and among the public health community. Some folks are spreading stories that the low- and no-calorie sweeteners found in diet beverages are not safe. But the science behind these ingredients speaks for itself.

Low- and no-calorie sweeteners have been used in foods and beverages for decades and have been studied over and over by scientists around the world. The results have remained the same – these ingredients are safe.

Various organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have repeatedly reaffirmed their safety, noting that they are not linked to adverse health outcomes, including cancer. In other words, low- and no-calorie sweeteners are safe for human consumption. Period.

Even better, studies show that drinking diet beverages may help overweight and obese individuals shed a few pounds since the beverages can help in both reducing calories and maintaining a healthy weight.

So next time you go to the store and are looking for options that help reduce calories don’t be deterred from picking up one of the wide range of low- or no-calorie beverages that our member companies offer. They are safe, a tool to help lose weight, and of course they are refreshing and delicious.

If you have more questions about the science behind these ingredients, visit LetsClearItUp.org.


What’s in a Name?

The beverage industry’s brands are some of the best recognized in the world. But packaging isn’t just about telling you the name. Over the years, our companies have used colors and graphics to help distinguish their products in the marketplace. Some are classic, and some are cutting edge.

Think you need the name on a can of soda to tell you what’s inside? Maybe not…

Game website Sporcle has a quiz to test if you can name a soft drink based on its (nameless) can. Want to see how you do? Try it out here.


Passing On Proposed Salt Warning Labels

You might have heard recently that the New York City Health Department is proposing a mandated high-salt warning label on menu items at chain restaurants and concession stands.  If the measure passes, New York would become the first U.S. city to implement such a rule.

This new crusade on salt is surprising since the science on salt is still evolving. Too much, of course, is bad. But so is too little.  And how much, exactly, is too much? That is still being debated by the scientific community. In fact, new research is casting doubt on the U.S. government’s current salt recommendations, on which the New York City rule would be based.

“The uncertainty surrounding salt consumption is the same uncertainty that attends diet research as a whole,” says journalist Vicky Gan in her article exploring the issue in The Atlantic magazine’s CityLab.

“It all comes back to the complexity of the human body and the difficulty of isolating the effects of any one ingredient, especially in the long term,” she writes. “But New York’s labeling proposal is distinctive in that it gets ahead of what research is available on salt.”

We couldn’t have said it better. The science of nutrition is complex. You can’t simplify nutrition recommendations by singling out “good” and “bad” foods or ingredients. Many times government has taken action before the facts are in, and it can have drastic negative results as it did when foods with cholesterol and fat were disparaged and subject to erroneous regulation.

Government should wait for science to weigh in before it does so, and then promise to look at the totality of evidence before giving us bad advice yet again.


Partnerships That Work

The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently wrapped up its 83rdAnnual Meeting in San Francisco, where ABA President and CEO Susan Neely spoke about the partnership between the beverage industry and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). A big part of this collaboration is aimed at supporting programs that educate children and families on the importance of balancing calories and staying active.

The beverage industry understands that nutrition education is an important step towards learning good lifelong habits on balance. That is why our industry is a proud supporter of the USCM’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Program and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America’s state association matching grant program.

These programs support obesity prevention and raise awareness about the importance of leading a balanced lifestyle. Programs like this have a lasting impact on recipient communities and exemplify how we are truly an industry that supports the communities in which we live, work and play.

The winners of the 2015 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards – Green Bay, Wisc.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Lima, Ohio; New Haven, Conn.; North Miami, Fla., and Seattle – have all created innovative programs to fight childhood obesity. The grants will help the mayors of these cities expand programs that, range from teaching teens how to cook healthy meals to creative promotions urging balance.

Our industry believes that public-private partnerships are key to addressing complex societal issues such as obesity. Congratulations to all the winners and all who are working together to create real and impactful solutions.

To learn more on how our industry delivers, visit DeliveringChoices.org.


A Misguided Proposal In Alabama

In Alabama, some legislators are talking about a beverage tax to help close a government spending deficit. We don’t know how high they might try to hike prices, but the politicians should know that taxes on common grocery items are very unpopular among consumers and a job-loser for the state.

Small business-owners who have faced tax battles in other states like Vermont have said loud and clear that beverage taxes hurt their businesses, and that costs jobs. That’s the last thing Alabamians would want while still struggling in a lagging economy.

Not only that, but higher prices from taxes on beverages prod Alabamians on the borders to cross state lines to do their shopping – not only for beverages but other groceries as well.

Polls show that Americans oppose taxes on common grocery items like beverages. When will these politicians get the message that people do not want their beverages taxed, or be told what they can and can’t buy at the grocery store?

What you eat, drink and feed your family is your choice and should not be subjected to government control, oversight or influence. The right to choose your own foods and beverages should not be compromised due to a government’s debt crisis. Government should focus on the things that matter – education, jobs, the economy – and leave the grocery shopping to us.

To learn more about why soda taxes are not a solution to the government’s debt problems visit YourCartYourChoice.com.


Clearing Up The Conversation On Beverages

Recently we’ve seen some food activists allege that sugar-sweetened beverages “cause” obesity, diabetes and a host of other adverse health conditions. Obviously they are hoping you never look at the science behind their claims. Because it doesn’t exist.

Obesity, diabetes and other chronic health conditions like hypertension are caused by a multitude of factors, including genetics, race, diet, physical activity, socio-economic and behavioral factors, even sleep patterns. According to science no single food, beverage or ingredient uniquely causes these health conditions.

It is wrong to suggest to people that reducing or eliminating beverages from the diet will uniquely lower the incidence of these serious health conditions. An imbalance of calories may not be healthy, but one needs to look at all sources of calories – as well as those being burned off through physical activity – when seeking balance.

Calories from soda account for a mere 4 percent of the total calories in the average diet. And the calories from soda are no different than calories from the other 96 percent of the diet. Beverages can certainly be part of a balanced diet.

So what’s the answer? Education is the key to achieving a balanced and healthy lifestyle. We need accurate information to help us make decisions about our diets and to achieve balance in our day-to-day lives.

The beverage industry is working to help consumers do just that. We have put clear calorie information on every bottle, can and pack we produce. We are placing calorie information on more than 3 million fountains, vending machines and coolers nationwide, allowing people to check calories before choosing their drink. Through our Balance Calories Initiative, we have set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025 by increasing interest in and access to waters, no- and low-calorie beverages and smaller portions.

And if you want to learn more about the facts of our beverages, check out LetsClearItUp.org.


When Is Enough – Enough?

The American population is more educated than it’s ever been and people are living longer, yet lawmakers are more likely than ever to be acting like our nannies.

In San Francisco, city lawmakers have mandated that warning labels be put on ads for soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, saying that this will help people be healthier. We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue, but placing warning labels on ads for soda and sugar-sweetened beverages and not other foods and beverages that have greater calories will not only mislead the public but won’t improve public health.

This point was reinforced by Jennifer Graham in her article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Soft drinks contain sugar. So do doughnuts, ketchup, spaghetti sauce and peanut butter. More than a third of the products in the supermarket could come with a warning label. Yet if we’re going to start publicly shaming the foods that are making us sick and fat, more than sugar belongs in the criminal lineup.”

Graham goes on to state that, “Warnings presume ignorance. Their absence presumes a population capable of assessing and managing risk, whether from one Oreo or a lifetime of root beer.”

Graham is right. Warning labels that vilify one product will not help reduce obesity. In fact, CDC data shows added sugar from soda is down 39 percent since 2000.  If lawmakers want to get serious about solutions to this complex public health issue it starts with educating consumers about balancing their food and beverage calories with physical activity.

Our industry is doing its part to provide consumers with choices, information, support and motivation so they can make the select the beverage option that’s right for them and their families. We’re providing more no- and lower-calorie choices, as well as smaller portion sizes, and placing clear calorie information on every bottle, can and pack we make.

To learn more about why warning labels are not effective, visit YourCartYourChoice.com.  And to learn more about how the beverage industry is helping consumers, visit DeliveringChoices.org.


The Real Impact Of Soda Taxes

In the past year, taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages have been passed in places like Mexico and Berkeley. And it is no surprise that proponents of these taxes are already jumping to false conclusions about the effectiveness of these taxes.

Recently, Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition and diet at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, concluded that sales of sugar-sweetened beverages are down in Mexico, therefore supporting his claim that, “[taxation] is the most effective way to change behavior.”

But what Popkin fails to mention is that his study – which is not yet published – is that, based on what we do know, it only looks at sales and provides no evidence the tax has helped a single person in Mexico lose weight. That should be no surprise. Studies in Europe show that when taxes are levied on foods or beverages, people tend to switch to lower cost brands or turn to other foods and beverages that have just as many if not more calories than the taxed items.

“The evidence demonstrates that large increases in soda taxes are unlikely to reduce caloric intake,” tax expert Jason Fletcher explains.

Economists generally agree that taxes on foods and beverages are unfair as well. Because of the regressive nature of these taxes they negatively impact low-income populations more than they do the overall population.

“Taxing food and drink is unlikely to make the poor slim, but it will certainly ensure they stay poor,” writes Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

It’s clear that activists like Popkin are neglecting the facts when it comes to the effectiveness of these taxes. In the meantime our member companies are working towards real and lasting solutions. Through our Balance Calories Initiative we have set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. And by helping teach people the importance of balancing what they eat, drink and do, they can find their own way to achieve a balanced lifestyle.


Knowing the Facts

When it comes to low- and no-calorie sweeteners, we at Sip & Savor understand that the Internet is full of misinformation and claims. One of the most common myths out there is that low-calorie sweeteners are unsafe.

What most people don’t know is that low-calorie sweeteners have been vigorously studied and have repeatedly been deemed safe by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and have not been shown to cause cancer or any other disease in people.

In fact, even the National Cancer Institute states that “there is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans.”

So, the next time you see another glaring headline that claims these ingredients are “unsafe” and “bad” for you, we encourage you to take a moment to look at the facts. For more science-based answers to the questions you may have about beverages, visit Let’sClearItUp.org.


The Food And Beverage Industry Are Committed

We’ve often blogged about the importance of public-private partnerships to combat the challenge of childhood obesity. Our industry believes that we can accomplish much more – and faster – by working together. After all, our industry has a long record of working with thought leaders, elected officials and other key stakeholders on meaningful solutions to societal challenges such as obesity.

That is why we are happy to share the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation’s (HWCF) new public-private partnership called Commitment to Healthy Communities (CHC). This new initiative will establish a new standard for community programs while enabling the food and beverage industry to assess the effectiveness of their efforts. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) calls the effort a “gutsy move,” and goes on to state that, “This effort is particularly significant because it can strengthen the ability of private industry to engage in a positive, constructive way with other stakeholders, such as community organizations and public health agencies, also working to build a Culture of Health.”

We agree. Joining with President Clinton and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, we changed the school beverage landscape by removing full-calorie soft drinks from schools and replacing them with a range of lower-calorie and smaller-portion options. That led to a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories in schools nationwide. And through our Balance Calories Initiative, we are once again working with the Alliance towards a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. This initiative is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity.

These are efforts that have real and lasting impact in communities across the nation. To learn more about how we are supporting and empowering consumers, check out DeliveringChoices.org.