City of Berkeley First in the U.S. to Pass Ordinance Banning Junk Food in Checkout Lanes
On September 22, 2020, the Berkeley City Council passed the “Healthy Checkout” bill (the Bill), an ordinance that requires “large retail stores” to offer healthy food and beverages at the checkout lane, such as chewing gum and mints with no added sugars, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, yogurt or cheese, and whole grains. Berkeley council members Kate Harrison and Sophie Hahn co-authored the Bill with the support of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which stated that this Bill will prohibit large retail stores from selling “unhealthy food and beverages,” like soda and sugary foods at checkout lanes.
The Bill defines “large retail store” as “a commercial establishment selling goods to the public with a total floor area over 2,500 square feet and selling 25 linear feet or more of food.” Section 9.82.030 of the Bill states that each retail store must ensure that all foods and beverages sold in checkout areas “comply with the following list of qualifying food and beverage categories: (A) beverages with no added sugars and no artificial sweeteners; (B) food items with no more than 5 grams of added sugars, and 200 milligrams of sodium per labeled serving; (C) 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.” A total of 25 retailers throughout the City of Berkeley, including stores such as Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes, will have to adhere to the ordinance.
Council member Kate Harrison stated that the “new regulations do not prohibit junk food entirely — retailers will still be allowed to sell the items in other parts of the store — just not at the eye-level of a child in the checkout lane.” In 2014, the City of Berkeley was also the first city in the United States to pass a soda tax. The “Healthy Checkout” Bill will go into effect on March 1, 2021 and health inspectors will begin enforcing the policy on January 1, 2022.