Berkeley passes ban on candy, soda at registers

Berkeley, Calif. passed an ordinance this week banning certain stores from selling junk food, candy and more in checkout aisles.

Berkeley’s City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the “Healthy Checkout Ordinance” which requires stores that are more than 2,500 square-feet in size to sell at least 25 feet of healthy items in the space near the checkout registers.

The rule is expected to go into effect in March 2021 and it will affect at least 25 stores in the California city, including CVS, Walgreens and more. Items with five grams of added sugar or less and those that contain less than 250 milligrams of sodium per serving will be allowed. 

“This ordinance is another effort to create a healthy food environment that would support families by providing them the ability to avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient food and beverages when they do their grocery and other shopping,” a report on the ordinance states. “Individuals and families who want to purchase sugary drinks, candy, chips, and other sweet and salty snacks will be able to find them in their respective aisles in the center of stores.”

City Council member Kate Harrison said that “Placement of unhealthy snacks near a register increases the likelihood that customers will purchase these foods and drinks when willpower is weak at the end of a long shopping trip,” CNN reported

“It’s not a ban, it’s a nudge,” Harrison continued. “Stores can still sell candy and soda, just not at your child’s eye level in the checkout.”

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In November 2014, Berkeley passed a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, the country’s first tax on the beverages. 

The ordinance passed on Tuesday states that food items must be in the following categories: chewing gum and mints with no added sugars, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, yogurt or cheese and whole grains.

Tags Berkeley California Junk food Obesity Public health Sugary drink tax

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