Soda Industry Suspiciously Designates a ‘Dr. Pepper’ as Expert Witness in San Francisco Court Battle

Last summer the San Francisco City Council decided that ads for soda and other sugary drinks must contain warnings about the potential health problems—obesity, tooth decay, diabetes—associated with eating too much sugar. A lawsuit by the American Beverage Association (ABA) has challenged the rule, claiming it violates the First Amendment.

“We have a constitutional right to promote our toxic products as fun, safe, and enjoyable beverages,” said Doug Nozzle, a spokesman for the ABA.

Not surprisingly, the lawsuit has centered on the claim that consumers need to be warned about the consumption of sugar-sweetened soda products. While the city of San Francisco has turned to expert witnesses such as Dr. Robert Lustig, a Pediatric Endocrinologist at the University of California, the American Beverage association has looked to one of its own.

“The expert report submitted by the ABA in this case was authored by a ‘Dr. Pepper,’ said Katherine Stanley, a lawyer for the City of San Francisco. “This isn’t even a real person, and it’s not a scientific report.”

Despite San Francisco’s objections, the expert report from the ABA was compelling enough that the court responded by granting an injunction to prevent the city’s ordinance from being enforced.

The Overheard Press acquired a copy of the ABA’s expert report and found Dr. Pepper’s argument summarized on the last page:

“Soda is a real thirst-quencher. It’s fun, healthy and American! Do you hate America? If you’re fat and sick, that’s not soda’s fault. It’s because you didn’t burn enough calories. Do you want the terrorists to win? Having mandatory soda health warnings means the terrorists win.” – Dr. Pepper