Berkeley OKS ‘healthy checkouts’
Shoppers in Berkeley will soon see fewer junk food items on their way out of grocery stores now that the City Council has passed an ordinance requiring grocers to offer healthy food and beverages in checkout aisles.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council passed the “healthy checkout” bill, possibly the first city in the nation to do so, eliminating the sale of junk food and beverages in the checkout lane and requiring healthy food options instead.
The bill was coauthored by Berkeley council members Kate Harrison and Sophie Hahn, and backed by the nonprofit Bay Area Community Resources and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group in Washington that focuses on health and nutrition.
“The healthy checkout ordinance is essential for community health, especially in the time of COVID19,” Harrison said in a statement. “What is good for Berkeley customers is also good for our businesses.”
The policy goes into effect on March 1, and health inspectors will begin enforcing the policy on Jan. 1, 2022.
Grocers are encouraged to offer healthier alternatives like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, whole grains, and chewing gum and mints with no added sugars.
Food items will be restricted to up to 5 grams of added sugar and 200 milligrams of sodium. Drinks must have no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
“By offering healthier options at checkout, stores would contribute to advancing public health and level the playing field for consumers during an already stressful time,” said Ashley Hickson, a senior policy associate at
Hickson said Berkeley’s action would build momentum for future efforts at the state and local levels.
More than two dozen grocers in Berkeley will be affected by the policy, including Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Safeway. The ordinance applies only to stores larger than 2,500 square feet.
Berkeley was also the first city in the nation to pass a soda tax in 2014. A recent study by UC Berkeley said that residents in Berkeley cut their consumption of sugary drinks by half after the tax was imposed.
Oakland’s Shannon Ratay checks out at Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley. The city passed the “healthy checkout” bill, possibly the first in the nation to do so.