Will California Restaurants Push Water Over Soda?

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Some members of the California legislature want to pass Bill SB-1192, which would govern which drinks restaurants can offer children. But the bill is complicated.

If the bill is enacted, would it hurt the soda business in California?

SB-1192 reads:

This bill would require a restaurant, as defined, that sells a children’s meal that includes a beverage, to make the default beverage water, sparkling water, or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative, as specified. The bill would not prohibit a restaurant’s ability to sell, or a customer’s ability to purchase, an alternative beverage if the purchaser requests one.

If someone does not request the drink, do they get the soda anyway? Apparently, people have to ask for an alternative. It is anyone’s guess how many will.

Opponents of the bill believe that people should drink whatever they want. The bill does not say people can’t but only that they don’t have to. That seems more complicated all by itself. One opponent of the bill, Assemblyman Matthew Harper, said: “Seriously, like, what’s next? Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?”

The bill does not have much in the terms of teeth since most restaurants allow people to order milk or water over soda anyway. Maybe a restaurant will change more, but that could bring a lot of negative publicity.

If the bill passes, people in California can order water instead of milk, but they probably already can.