Chicago City Councilman Wants to Ban Energy Drinks

522fskitched 20130125 111447 Chicago City Councilman Wants to Ban Energy Drinks

Chicago Alderman Edward
Burke may be the staunchest elected opponent of food freedom in
America whose name you’ve never heard.While New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg gets all the
press—often
with good
reason—the fact that Ald. Burke commands little or no national
attention is likely more a function of his Second City residence
and second-banana title (“Dean of the Chicago City Council”) than
it is of any lack of regulatory zeal.In recent years, Burke has used his vast sway as the
aforementioned dean, longest-serving and
most powerful member of the city council, and chair of the
council’s finance committee increasingly to undermine the right of
Chicagoans to make their own food choices.In 2006, he introduced an ordinance that would have made Chicago
the first large city in the nation to prohibit restaurants from
cooking with trans fats.“If the restaurants won’t voluntarily change their policy and
adopt a healthy means of preparation,” Burke
told PBS NewsHour after introducing the bill, “then I think
that it’s clear that municipal government has the right to step in
and legislate.”That same year, Burke voted in favor of the city’s foie gras
ban—though his
parliamentary skills later helped to sink it.But even Burke’s rationale for this seeming reversal is a
telling nod to power, rather than to freedom.“Apparently, the mayor decided it was time” to end the ban,
Burke
told Mark Caro, author of the book
The Foie Gras Wars, “and that was it” for his proposed
ban.Then, in 2010, Burke co-sponsored
a proposed ban on caffeinated beers in Chicago—where Four Loko
maker Phusion Projects is based.The latest target for Burke, 69, who has held the same
alderman’s chair since 1969—nearly two-thirds of his life—is
popular energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. An ordinance Burke

introduced last week would ban from the city all sales of
energy drinks containing more than 180 mg of caffeine and also
containing either guarana or taurine (common energy drink
ingredients).Burke’s proposed ban is part of a larger move against energy
drink makers across the country. In New York, for example, state
attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman has subpoenaed a handful of
energy drink makers,
claiming the industry may be “deceiving consumers with
misstatements about the ingredients and health value of its
products.” The FDA is investigating
up to five deaths over several years that the agency claims may be
tied to energy drinks. Congress is
considering new regulations pertaining to energy drinks. And
papers from coast to coast, including the
editors of the San Jose Mercury News and
The New York Times (in the form of reporter Barry Meier,
who Jacob Sullum
notes has been crusading against energy drinks for some time)
have pushed increased regulations.The penalties in Burke’s proposed ban on energy drinks mirror
those he
recommended for selling caffeinated beers—a fine of up to $500
and the potential loss or suspension of a city-mandated
license.“These energy drinks, if they’re consumed in large amounts,
especially by kids, can have serious health implications,” Burke

told WGN last week.That’s probably true of energy drinks—but also of coffee, tea,
soda, juice, alcohol, water, and any other beverage.And, in truth, energy drinks look a lot like a lot of other
beverages.

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Chicago City Councilman Wants to Ban Energy Drinks


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