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Soft Drink Warning Labels?

Posted by on Feb. 19, 2013 at 2:11 PM
Pam
  • 32 Replies

Soft Drink Warning Labels Face Criticism After Coroner's Finding On Natasha Harris' Coca-Cola Habit


A New Zealand coroner recommended warning labels be placed on soft drinks after the court linked Coca-Cola to the death of 31-year-old Natasha Harris.

Last week, a New Zealand coroner linked the 2010 death of Natasha Harris, a 31-year-old mother of eight, to health complications brought on by her excessive consumption of Coca-Cola.

The coroner, David Crerar, did not hold the Coca-Cola company responsible for the woman's death. However, he recommended that warning labels be placed on soft drinks in an effort to educate the public about the health risks associated with overconsumption of sugary, caffeinated beverages.

The suggestion is now facing criticism from both sides of the debate. While Coca-Cola and beverage industry associations have rejected the use of such labels as unfair, some critics of sugary drinks think that warnings alone might not be enough to impact public health.

In a Feb. 13 statement, Katherine Rich, chief executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council, an industry association, said that "No regulatory system can legislate for extreme cases" such as Harris'.

According to depositions submitted to the coroner's inquest, Harris drank more than 2 gallons of Coke every day. Due to her habit, Crerar estimated that the woman's intake of caffeine was almost double the daily amount considered healthy. In addition, he estimated Harris consumed the equivalent of 2 pounds of sugar a day.

In an email to The Huffington Post, Coca-Cola expressed sympathy for Harris and her family but said that it does "not believe soft drinks should be singled out from other beverages and foods for additional labeling requirements," claiming that "[the] caffeine levels in Coke are less than many other commonly consumed beverages," such as instant coffee and tea.

While the coroner's finding linked excessive caffeine intake to the cardiac arrhythmia that killed Harris, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity expert, said he thinks the added sugar in such beverages is the real problem.

Freedhoff said he "wouldn't be opposed" to health warnings on packaging, since they've been shown effective in discouraging smoking, but he noted that in the case of soft drinks, labels alone might not be enough to impact public health.

"With warning labels the only intervention, I doubt we'd see huge change. Couple warning labels with taxes on added sugars, public health campaigns explaining the risks inherent to their consumptions, limits on cups sizes ... and inclusion of added sugars as risky to school curricula, and I'd bet we'd see a big difference," Freedhoff wrote in an email to HuffPost.

In literature about sugary drinks and obesity, the Harvard School of Public Health claims that "rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic," and cited a two-decade study that linked consumption of sugary soft drinks with an increased risk of heart disease in men.

A related study by the Department of Nutrition at Simmons College found a similar disease link in women, noting in conclusion that:

"Regular consumption of [sugar sweetened beverages] is associated with a higher risk of [coronary heart disease] in women, even after other unhealthful lifestyle or dietary factors are accounted for."

This finding is significant because critics of the New Zealand coroner's decision, which include Coca-Cola and trade associations, have pointed to health factors such as Harris' poor diet and heavy smoking habit as a way to detract from the role of sweetened beverages in her death.

A review of policy guidelines on the addition of caffeine to foods is the subject of a current working group between Australian and New Zealand ministries, a spokesman for the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries told Stuff.co.nz.

This isn't the first time that Coca-Cola has faced criticism from health advocates this year. In January, an ad claiming that lower-sugar and sugar-free Coca-Cola products could be part of the obesity solution was roundly criticized.

After PepsiCo agreed to remove an additive from its Gatorade sports drinks following a flurry of consumer complaints, an online petition was started to ask Coca-Cola to do the same with its Powerade brand sports drinks.

by on Feb. 19, 2013 at 2:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
stormcris
by Christy on Feb. 19, 2013 at 10:42 PM
1 mom liked this

The role the sweetened beverage played in her death?

IF she had drink water like that she would have first off been dead long ago and no one would be wanting to put a warning on it. They want all these warning labels but it seems to me that people need to be responsible for their actions. If I drank Mountain Dew like that the soft drink would not be responsible for my death; I would.

littlemonaghan
by Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 10:47 PM
3 moms liked this
She drank 2 gallons of soda a day?!?
I have a soda problem but I thought my 2 or 3 cans a day were bad. Holy cow. She would need to drink like an entire 24 pack a day!
My god
I don't think coke needs a warning label that's dumb.
Stupid people need warning labels
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grandmab125
by Gold Member on Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:27 AM

 Why not?  The gov't assumes we all have absolutely no common sense.  Have you ever looked at all of the warning labels the Federal Consumer's Protection Agency makes companies put on all of their products?  It's crazy.

Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:40 AM

I get the sentiment but there is a point to this:


In a Feb. 13 statement, Katherine Rich, chief executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council, an industry association, said that "No regulatory system can legislate for extreme cases" such as Harris'.


Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:41 AM

Have you ever read the warning labels on aspirin?

Quoting grandmab125:

 Why not?  The gov't assumes we all have absolutely no common sense.  Have you ever looked at all of the warning labels the Federal Consumer's Protection Agency makes companies put on all of their products?  It's crazy.



littlemonaghan
by Member on Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:44 AM

I LOVE your picture. I just noticed it.

i <3 downton

Quoting PamR:


grandmab125
by Gold Member on Feb. 20, 2013 at 1:46 AM

 A part of an interesting article in the Washington Post on warning labels and the Consumer Protection Safety Commission on 9/7/2012:

Some of the earliest federally mandated warnings came in 1927 when Congress passed a law requiring “poison” labels on household products containing certain caustic or corrosive substances, according to a report by Exponent Failure Analysis Associates, a consulting firm. Warnings on drugs, medical devices and cosmetics followed a decade later.

But a warnings boom took place in the 1960s, giving rise to some of today’s most familiar labels, the report said. That’s when words like “danger” and “flammable” and “keep out of reach of children” started appearing on entire categories of products with hazardous substances. It’s also the decade that Congress mandated warnings for cigarettes.

Today, warnings are so pervasive that they’ve become a nearly meaningless safety tool in some areas, more useful in protecting manufacturers against legal liability than in guarding consumers from harm, according to David Egilman, a clinical professor at Brown University’s family medicine department who has researched industry’s influence on warnings.

“If everything you pick up has a warning on it, you’re going to instinctively ignore all warnings,” Egilman said. “That’s the real problem.
 
The FDA is the governing agency for warnings on meds and cigs.
 
Modern day aspirin has been around since 1898.  All things in moderation.  People who have had by-pass surgery or are potential heart attack candidates because of clogged arteries are put on aspirin regimens by their doctors.  In fact, a doctor will tell you that if you think you are having a heart attack, try to chew an aspirin while you are calling 911.
 
Have you ever read the warning labels on Tylenol?  Over doses of it (which would have to be pretty massive) can kill your liver.
 
Moderation, as in all things, is the key to your health.  Be aware of what you are ingesting.
Quoting Momniscient:

Have you ever read the warning labels on aspirin?

Quoting grandmab125:

 Why not?  The gov't assumes we all have absolutely no common sense.  Have you ever looked at all of the warning labels the Federal Consumer's Protection Agency makes companies put on all of their products?  It's crazy.


 

grandma B

Mipsy
by Bronze Member on Feb. 20, 2013 at 1:59 AM
She's the exception, not the rule!
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AMBG825
by on Feb. 20, 2013 at 6:28 AM

 There was a woman who died a few years ago from drinking too much water? Are we putting warning labels on water too?

coupon_ash_back
by on Feb. 20, 2013 at 6:31 AM
What idiot would do that other than this person? ....wait. Never mind there are more idiots out there .
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