Since its inception, the controversial plan, spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been criticized by the beverage industry and small businesses.
Mayor Bloomberg said he will challenge the ruling.
From The Associated Press:
NEW YORK — A judge struck down New York City's groundbreaking limit on the size of sugar-laden drinks Monday shortly before it was set to take effect, agreeing with the beverage industry and other opponents that the rule is arbitrary in applying to only some sweet beverages and some places that sell them. .
"The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule," Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling wrote.
Further, the Board of Health went beyond its authority in approving the size limit, he said. The restriction was supposed to start Tuesday.
"The portion cap rule, if upheld, would create an administrative Leviathan and violate the separation of powers doctrine," by straying into territory that should belong to the elected City Council, not the board appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tingling wrote.
That, he wrote, "has the potential to be more troubling than sweetened beverages.
The city Board of Health approved the measure in September. Championed by Bloomberg, it follows on other efforts his administration has made to improve New Yorkers' eating habits, from compelling chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus to barring artificial trans fats in restaurant food to prodding food manufacturers to use less salt.
The city has said that while restaurant inspectors would start enforcing the soda size rule in March, they wouldn't seek fines – $200 for a violation – until June.
Soda makers, restaurateurs, movie theater owners and other business groups sued, asking a judge to declare the measure invalid. In February, they asked Tingling to bar the city from enforcing the regulation while the suit played out.
City officials have called the size limit a pioneering move for public health. They point to the city's rising obesity rate – about 24 percent of adults, up from 18 percent in 2002 – and to studies tying sugary drinks to weight gain. Care for obesity-related illnesses costs government health programs about $2.8 billion a year in New York City alone, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
The supersize-drink crackdown will "have significant public health effects, and the sooner that happens, the better," city lawyer Mark W. Muschenheim said in court in February.
Critics said the measure is too limited to make a meaningful impact on New Yorkers' waistlines. But they said it would take a bite out of business for the eateries that have to comply, while other establishments still will get sell sugary drinks in 2-liter bottles and supersize cups.
Beverage makers had expected to spend about $600,000 changing bottles and labels, movie theater owners feared losing soda sales that account for 20 percent of their profits, and delis and restaurants would have had to change inventory, reprint menus and make other adjustments, according to court papers.
"These are costs which these businesses are not going to be compensated for," and the money will be wasted if the court ultimately nixes the law, James E. Brandt, a lawyer for the American Beverage Association and other opponents, told the judge in February.
Critics also said the restriction should have gone before the elected City Council instead of the Bloomberg-appointed health board. The city says the panel of doctors and other health professionals had both the authority and expertise to make the decision.
This story has been updated.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Wendy's Baconator Double
We're sorry to tell you this, Mr. Mayor, but the cheeseburger called <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2010/03/24/the-40-deadliest-fast-food-meals.html" target="_hplink">"Deadliest Fast Food Meal"</a> by the Daily Beast, the Baconator Double, packs 1,330 calories in one serving.
IHOP's Chicken And Spinach Salad
Mr. Bloomberg, we apologize for the shock that burger must have caused you. Allow us to soften the blow with a salad. <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2111042/Not-healthy-option--The-IHOP-chicken-spinach-salad-calorie-equivalent-THREE-Big-Macs.html" target="_hplink">IHOP's 1600 calorie Chicken and Spinach Salad</a>. For the record, that calorie count is higher than a burger on their menu with an added <strong>bacon patty</strong>.
T.G.I.Friday's Loaded Potato Skins
We know how you feel, sir. Up is down, down is up, salad is terrible for you... perhaps potato skins have become good for you? Maybe not. <a href="http://www.tgifridays.com/greatfood#appetizers" target="_hplink">T.G.I.Friday's Loaded Potato Skins</a> have 2030 calories and 131g of fat, which, it should be noted, is significantly more than the Jack Daniel's Sampler Platter -- which is a plate of meat, basted with Jack Daniel's and sugar.
KFC Double Down
In case you somehow missed it, Mr. Bloomberg, we'd like to turn your attention to the KFC Double Down. They use fried chicken instead of buns for this sandwich, sir.
World's Meatiest Sandwich
<a href="http://www.geekologie.com/2012/05/28-lb-sandwich-is-worlds-meatiest-most-k.php" target="_hplink">This monstrosity was created</a> to commorate the UK launch of <em>Man vs. Food</em>. Sir, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Who wants to eat a 28 pound sandwich, anyway?" We're not sure, Bloomie, but you'll probably want to ban it.
Burger King Triple Whopper With Cheese
Mr. Mayor, we see your gears turning: just like the proposed ban on large sodas, you're envisioning limiting Burger King customers to only two patties per burger. This<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5vjQQXauD0" target="_hplink"> Japanese commercial for the product</a> may have swayed us your way: you probably shouldn't order anything you have to un-hinge your jaw to eat.
Where will the line be drawn, Mr. Mayor? Will you follow your nose to the doors of those citizens who make themselves a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/dining/28bacon.html" target="_hplink">Bacon Explosion</a> and confiscate the contraband? <em>Bacon explosion picture by Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/beckmann/3362040723/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Elin B.</a></em>
Chili's Shiner Bock Baby Back Ribs
Michael (can we call you Michael?), by now, we all know <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/dining/23bloom.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">how much you like salt</a>. But <a href="http://www.chilis.com/" target="_hplink">Chili's Shiner Bock Ribs</a> may be too much even for you: they're packing a whopping 2310 calories, 124g of fat and <strong>6340mg of sodium</strong> in one portion. Please put down the salt-shaker, sir.
Denny's Grand Slamwich
Because we know how focused on health you are, Mr. Mayor, you are likely very focused on starting your day off with a substantial breakfast. Please hang onto your Mayoral hat, because <a href="http://dennys.com/" target="_hplink">Denny's Grand Slamwich</a> is packing 1520 calories and 101 grams of fat. Although there are currently no Denny's locations in New York City, we thought you might want to disapprove anyway. Today NYC, tomorrow the world, am I right? (You remember their <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/dennys-mac-n-cheese-patty-melt_n_945390.html" target="_hplink">Mac N' Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt</a>, don't you?)
Burger King Bacon Sundae
Still hungry for dessert? Well sir, Burger King <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/burger-king-bacon-sundae_n_1590522.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">will be giving their Bacon Sundae a wider release this summer</a>, which means more soft-serve, fudge, caramel and bacon will be available to the public.
Cold Stone Creamery's Chocolate Malt
Here's one you might want to pick up your ban-writing pen for, Mr. Mayor: just one of <a href="http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/" target="_hplink">Cold Stone Creamery's</a> "Gotta Have It"-sized Chocolate Malts contains 1520 calories and 85g of fat. A healthier option might be to just eat a <a href="http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/butter?portionid=29481&portionamount=1.000" target="_hplink">stick of butter</a> on its own.