Published July 30, 2013
Another court ruling has taken the fizz out of New York City's ban on big, sugary sodas.
A New York appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the city Board of Health exceeded its legal authority and acted unconstitutionally when it tried to put a size limit on soft drinks served in city restaurants.
"The Board of Health overstepped the boundaries of its lawfully delegated authority," the court said in its decision.
The state Supreme Court Appellate Division, with its opinion, upheld an earlier ruling that stopped the ban from taking effect in March. The rule would stop many eateries from selling non-diet soda and other sugar-laden beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces.
The beverage industry and other opponents say the measure is riddled with exceptions, unfair and ineffective.
The city's law department has promised an appeal. "Today's decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
In its unanimous opinion, the four-judge panel said Tuesday that the health board was acting too much like a legislature when it created the limit. The judges wrote that while the board had the power to ban "inherently harmful" foodstuffs from being served to the public, sweetened beverages didn't fall into that category. They also said the board appeared to have crafted much of the new rules based on political or economic considerations, rather than health concerns.
New York's effort to cap soda portions has drawn national attention, whether from diet companies lauding it as a groundbreaking step in America's war on extra weight or from late-night TV hosts ribbing Bloomberg as a nutrition nanny.
The drinks limit follows other Bloomberg efforts to nudge New Yorkers into better diets. His administration has forced chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, barred artificial trans fats from restaurant fare and challenged food manufacturers to use less salt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.