Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY
Published 4: 37 p.m. ET Sept. 25, 2020 | Updated 6: 16 p.m. ET Sept. 25, 2020
The city of Berkeley, California is back on the attack against unhealthy habits.
The progressive university town this time has passed an ordinance requiring stores over 2,500 square feet in size to sell more nutritious food and beverage options in their checkout areas.
That means no more candy, soda and salty snacks available for impulsive shoppers waiting in line to pay at the register. The ban is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
“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,” said a city report on the ordinance passed this week by the city council. “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. By changing checkout norms, shoppers and their children face less temptation to consume sugary foods and there is less reinforcement of these unhealthy choices.”
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This is not the first time Berkeley has taken sugar seriously with local laws. In November 2014, Berkeley passed a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. It was the nation’s first tax on such beverages and later showed to be effective in its goal of reducing consumption.
According to a study by the University of California Berkeley, residents in “diverse and low-income neighborhoods” three years later reported drinking 52 percent fewer servings of sugary drinks than they did before the tax was passed.
The new so-called Healthy Checkout Ordinance is effective Jan. 1 and affects about 25 stores, including Safeway, CVS, Walgreens and Whole Foods.
It says beverages sold in the checkout area must have no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. For food items, it says they must have no more than five grams of added sugars or 200 milligrams of sodium per labeled serving.
It also says 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.
Contact reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: email@example.com
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