This just in: the Berkeley City Council just passed a new law that will forbid grocery stores in the California city from offering candy and soda in the checkout aisle.
The ordinance that bars grocery stores from selling unhealthy items in the checkout line passed unanimously last night. Starting on March 1, 2021, food items with more than five grams of added sugars or 250 milligrams of sodium per serving will be banned from the checkout aisle in Berkeley grocery stores.
This order applies to independent retailers and stores with more than 2,500 square feet as well as chains in the city, including Trader Joe's and Safeway. (Related: 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply).
"The healthy checkout ordinance is essential for community health, especially in the time of COVID-19," said Berkeley City Council member Kate Harrison, who is one of the ordinance's co-authors. "What is good for Berkeley customers is also good for our businesses."
Supporters of the ordinance state that the new rule will help encourage consumers to shop for healthier foods in-store, especially children. While the child obesity rate in Berkeley falls beneath the overall rate in both Alameda County and the state of California, the proportion of Black children who are either overweight or obese is notably higher than the county and state averages. Additionally, the need to support the immune system is higher than ever during the pandemic, and sugary foods have been shown to temporarily suppress its function.
"Many parents of color in Berkeley are worried because they are seeing a rise in diabetes in the community and they fear for their children's lives," Monique Blodgett, a Berkeley mother, and local activist said in a CSPI release commending the new rule. "I believe healthy checkout lanes would make a huge difference for Berkeley families and help people gain more confidence shopping. It would also demonstrate that their community cares about them and their health."
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