Starbucks Refuses To Follow NYC Sugary Drink Ban - Mayor Bloomberg Dismisses This As 'Ridiculous'

Michael Bloomberg

Getty Images / Mike Stobe

Michael Bloomberg's large, sugary drink ban will start in NYC tomorrow.

But Bloomberg is facing some intense opposition from corporate giant Starbucks. The coffee chain said it would make no immediate changes to its business based on the ban.

Bloomberg told television show Face The Nation that Starbucks not changing its offerings is "ridiculous." Advertisement

When interviewer Bob Schieffer pointed out that Starbucks wasn't changing its offerings because it was confused about which of its products would fall under the ban, Bloomberg retorted that the corporation should know better.

“Starbucks knows how to market things, knows how to package things,” Bloomberg said. “They can change instantly when it’s in their interest to do so.”

The new mandate limits sugary drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, street carts, and more to 16 ounces. But some drinks, such as those made up of 50 percent milk or more, are exempt.

It will be enforced by city health inspectors during inspections, when restaurants violating the ban will lose points on their sanitation score. It's not clear, however, how significant the penalities will be or whether the city would take stronger action to target as big an offender as Starbucks.

Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills told us that it would not make immediate changes to its menu because of the ban. "Our understanding is that any beverage with 50 percent or more milk is exempt from the ruling," Mills said. "Because many of our beverages are made from milk or are customized by the customer, many of our beverages fall outside the ban." Advertisement

But Starbucks will still continue to offer beverages like its green iced-tea lemonade in larger sizes too. That drink doesn't contain milk but is high in sugar.

Starbucks also "recognizes pending litigation" about the ban and "doesn't want to make any knee-jerk reactions," Mills said.

The American Beverage Association filed to stop the ban until a judge decides on whether to stop it altogether. Advertisement

Starbucks competitor Dunkin' Donuts is taking the mandate seriously.

At Dunkin', customers will have to add their own sugar or flavors to large and extra-large hot beverage and medium and large iced beverages. The company also announced that sweet beverages like hot chocolate will only be available in small and medium sizes.

Bloomberg's ban, which only affects restaurants and places that sell prepared foods, is meant to combat obesity. Advertisement

Critics of the ban say it will be difficult to enforce and will make business less efficient.

For example, instead of a Dunkin' Donuts employee adding sugar to a drink and handing it off, customers will have to line up to add their own sugar.