Berkeley Passes Ban on Soda, Candy at Checkout

The ordinance prohibits displays of unhealthy foods in the cashier aisles for big retailers.

September 25, 2020

BERKELEY, Calif.—The Berkeley (Calif.) City Council approved a measure that bans soda and candy in the checkout aisles of large retailers starting in March 2021, the Berkeleyside Nosh reports. Supporters say the ban is the first of its kind in the United States. Enforcement will start Jan. 1, 2022.

The ordinance applies to stores larger than 2,500 square feet, and will affect 25 locations in the city, including CVS, Whole Foods, Walgreens and Safeway. The ban stipulates that food items with five grams of added sugars and 200 milligrams of sodium, beverages with added sugars or artificial sweeteners, and gum and mints with added sugars cannot be sold in cashier lines. The policy goes even further by requiring stores to put healthy food near registers and in places customers wait in line.

The new law is “really good behavioral economics,” said Kate Harrison, one of the council members who sponsored the bill. “It facilitates better choices for consumers but does not limit what they can buy.” The council unanimously approved the ordinance.

Berkeley also passed the first U.S. tax on soda in 2014. California is on the forefront of taxes and bans on food and beverages perceived as unhealthy. Last month, a lawsuit was filed in Sacramento Superior Court alleging that California’s  2018 law prohibiting cities from taxing sugary drink purchases until 2031 is illegal.