New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg's "soda ban," which passed last September, is limited to his city, but it's still freaking out fast food chains that are located far away from the East Coast metropolis.
CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, doesn't have a single restaurant in New York City.
Yet CKE CEO Andy Puzder is really riled up about what Bloomberg has done.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s foray into this area is misguided. I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s anti-American. Every time you increase the power of government, you decrease our individual liberties,” he told QSR Magazine's Sam Oches, who took a deep look at the "Bloomberg Precedent."
“And it’s very difficult to see what’s a more personal decision a person can make than what they eat," Puzder said in the interview. "Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to cut back on those choices is really an attempt to try to change the government structure that we’ve had for the past 235 years.”
White Castle VP Jamie Richardson, whose restaurants are all over NYC, echoed Puzder.
“Sometimes the ideas people have in terms of how to tackle a problem look good in a textbook setting,” he told QSR Magazine. “It might look good in an academic setting. But when you try to implement those ideas in a real-world setting, it has horrific effects on real people and real neighborhoods. This is a classic example of government gone mad, [of] aggressive overreach.”
He's worried about what could happen next now that Bloomberg has set the precedent.
“The question we’re all asking is, If this is happening with soft drinks, what’s next?” Richardson said. “Portion-controlled plates? The death of the buffet? It just feels that this is a real overreach.”
But if the sugary-beverage ban is just in New York City, why should the rest of the country care?
Well, Bloomberg has made a big impact outside of his city with his food regulations in the past.
For instance, there was the trans fat regulation which limited artificial trans fats in foods to 0.5 grams per serving. Chains like fast food monolith McDonald's ended up changing some of their recipes systemwide, while additional cities like Chicago and San Francisco started looking at new trans fat regulations of their own.
There's also the worry about competition. After all, the ban doesn't affect convenience stores, so someone could buy a bunch of burgers from White Castle, then go across the street to a 7-Eleven and buy a massive Big Gulp.
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