California Passed Nation’s First Kids’ Meal Bill
- In another effort to limit consumption of sugary drinks, California passed Senate Bill 1192, the nation’s first statewide kids’ meal bill. The bill requires that water, sparkling water, flavored water, unflavored milk, or a nondairy milk alternative are the default beverage in kids’ meals, instead of soda or other sugar sweetened beverages. The bill does not prohibit the sale of other drinks (e.g., soda), but only requires that the default beverage offered with the kids’ meal be water, milk, or a nondairy alternative. In addition, the default drinks must be featured on menus or in advertisements instead of the other drink choices, like soda.
- California passed the measure as a means to combat the obesity epidemic. The legislature found that “many families lack adequate time to obtain and prepare healthy food, making dining out an appealing and often necessary option. As a result, more than one-half of food expenditures in the United States are spent outside the home. Nationwide, American children eat 25 percent of their calories at fast food and other restaurants. Children consume almost twice as many calories when they eat a meal at a restaurant as they do when they eat at home.” The California legislature stated that they passed the bill with the intent to support parents’ efforts to feed their children nutritiously.
- Several fast food brands have already committed to changing their default beverage choices in kids’ meals, dating back to 2013. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Applebee’s, and Jack in the Box all offer at least milk or water to children. And now with the passage of this bill, all California restaurants that offer kids’ meals will be required to follow suit and change their default beverage choices.
- Similar to the popularity of soda taxes, kids’ meal bills are gaining momentum nationwide. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, nine California jurisdictions have already passed kids’ meal policies, and other cities and states across the country, like Baltimore, Louisville, New York City, Hawaii, and Vermont, are considering similar measures.
© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 241