- Beginning in March 2021, candy, chips, soda and other junk food items will not be available for purchase at store checkouts. The Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance on Sept. 22 that will ban these products from the aisles right by store registers.
- The Healthy Checkout Ordinance, which is the first of its kind in the U.S., will ban food items with five or more grams of added sugars and 200 milligrams or more of sodium, chewing gum and mints with added sugars and beverages with added sugars or artificial sweeteners. The ordinance passed unanimously at the Council's meeting and was sponsored by Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Sophie Hahn.
- the snacks and treats will be replaced with healthier options in retailers that occupy spaces that are each larger than 2,500 square feet.
- Under the new policy, customers will still be able to buy the sweet and salty treats they desire — they'll just need to go looking for them throughout the store, versus picking them up as they're checking out. Corner stores and small delis will not be held to the ordinance, which goes into effect March 1, 2021 and will be actively enforced by health inspectors starting January 1, 2022.
- According to Berkeleyside, Ayanna Davis, director of programs at Healthy Black Families, spoke during the public comment period of the council's meeting and said that as a mother of seven, she is accustomed to dealing with what she calls "predator marketing" at checkout counters in stores. Davis believes this type of marketing targets communities of color and cited a city equity report on disproportionately high rates of diabetes and heart disease in Berkeley’s Black community.
- Not all Berkeley residents agreed with the new policy. NBC's Bay Area affiliate KNTV reported that at least some people thought the city should focus on more pressing concerns than what people put in their mouths.
“I’m a diabetic Type 2,” A.J. Curtis told KNTV. But he says other issues, like Berkeley’s homeless crisis, are more important than what people are buying. “I feel like they should be focusing more on that than on the food we eat,” he said.
Live and Recorded Public meetings of Regular City Council Meeting - 6 p.m. for City of Berkeley
The city has long been known for utilizing ordinances to push for better social behavior: In 2014, Berkeley became the first American city to pass a soda tax, and last year, in a push to remove gendered language, they stopped using the word “manhole.”
“It’s not a ban, it’s a nudge.”
“This is a massive win for consumers and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, when grocery stores are more integral to our well-being than ever before,” said CSPI senior policy associate Ashley Hickson. “By offering healthier options at checkout, stores will contribute to advancing public health and level the playing field for consumers during an already stressful time. Berkeley’s historic action will build momentum for future efforts to improve the food retail environment at the state and local level.”
In Berkeley, African American residents are 4 times more likely than white residents to be diagnosed with diabetes and 14 times more likely to be hospitalized due to the illness. Nationwide, diabetes is on the rise.
“This policy is especially important now in the time of COVID-19, in which patients with co-existing conditions such as diabetes and obesity appear to have worse outcomes,” said Scheider, long-time Berkeley resident and mother of 3. “It is also a gift to busy parents who can now steer clear of the sugar aisles and know that healthy treats are the only temptations when they wait in line to pay.”
Consumers in Berkeley, California scored a major victory with the passage of the nation’s first healthy checkout policy requiring grocery stores to offer more nutritious food and beverages in the checkout aisle.