Berkeley, California Bans Candy and Junk Food in Grocery Checkout Lanes

As part of a health initiative in Berkeley, California, the city council voted unanimously to adopt the "Healthy Checkout Ordinance." This ruling will require grocery stores to stop selling junk food and candy in their checkout aisles beginning in March of 2021.

The ordinance requires that stores over 2,500 sq ft must sell at least 25 sq ft of healthy items within a 3 ft radius of checkout registers. So instead of candy and soda, shoppers will see fresh fruits and whole grain alternatives in the checkout lanes. 

"Placement of unhealthy snacks near a register increases the likelihood that customers will purchase these foods and drinks when willpower is weak at the end of a long shopping trip," City Council member Kate Harrison said.

"The idea of healthy checkout is that it offers parents more opportunities to say yes to their kids, and it also helps us to re-envision what treats are," said Holly Scheider, a member of Berkeley's sugar-sweetened beverage commission.

The rule will affect 25+ retailers in the city including Whole Foods, CVS, Walgreens, and Safeway. Stores are still allowed to sell the junk food items, but the retailers who took part in the test cases saw dramatic increases in sales of healthy foods since they changing their checkout offerings.

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