Berke­ley OKS ‘healthy check­outs’

San Francisco Chronicle - - BUSINESS REPORT - By Sh­wanika Narayan

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

CSPI.

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.

Gabrielle Lurie / The Chron­i­cle

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.

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