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Junk Food Gets the Boot

Berkeley, California has become the first US city to ban the sale of junk food within three feet of the registers at grocery stores.  The bill, which has been discussed since last fall, takes effect this month.  It requires stores larger than 2,500 square feet to stock their checkout lanes where impulse purchases are usually made with healthier options like fruit and nuts.  The sale of foods and beverages deemed unhealthy due to factors such as sugar or fat content will be banned when in proximity to checkout lanes.  Examples of foods under the scope of this ordinance include any food that contains more than 5 grams of added sugar or over 250 milligrams of sodium per serving.  This applies mainly to soda, chips, candy, and other processed foods.

Kids have long begged for candy while standing in the checkout line with parents.  The Berkeley mayor and city council believe that the pandemic has worsened various health conditions and hope that the displacement of the unhealthy items will reduce the risk for people who have been diagnosed as diabetic or have heart disease.

The city council of Berkeley does not think this displacement of junk food will hurt stores.  Many fruits, nuts, and other healthy snacks have a higher profit margin than a bag of chips or a candy bar does.  Other cities could do the same.  Berkley was the first US city to pass a soda tax in 2014.

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Posted on 9 March 2021