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Beverage industry, NYC lawyers duel over drinks

January 23, 2013 • Business


FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2012 photo, Luke Husemann, and Christina Nunez, of Baltimore, sip on extra-large soft drinks at a McDonald’s restaurant in New York. The city defended its groundbreaking size limit on sugary drinks Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, as an imperfect but meaningful rein on obesity, while critics said it would hurt small and minority-owned businesses while doing little to help health. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The city defended its groundbreaking size limit on sugary drinks Wednesday as an imperfect but meaningful rein on obesity, while critics said it would hurt small and minority-owned businesses while doing little to help health.

The first courtroom arguments in the closely watched case ended without an immediate ruling. Opponents said they planned to ask a judge to delay enforcement during the suit, which has broached questions of racial fairness alongside arguments about government authority and burdens to business.

The NAACP’s New York state branch and a network of Hispanic groups have joined a legal effort to block the first-of-its-kind restriction, igniting questions Wednesday about the groups’ ties to the beverage industry.

Beverage makers, restaurateurs, minority advocates and other critics told a judge the upcoming 16-ounce limit was a finger-wagging incursion on consumer choice, rife with inconsistencies that would cost a hot dog vendor business while still allowing New Yorkers to buy belly-buster sodas at the chain convenience store next to him. Opponents’ lawyers called it “ham-handed,” ”grossly unfair” and just “plain silly.”

“New Yorkers do not want to be told what to drink,” attorney James Brandt said.

City lawyers acknowledged the rule’s limitations. It Login to read more

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