The California legislature passed a bill last week banning restaurants from selling soda with kids’ meals and instead requires them to offer a healthier alternative including milk, water, and or 100% juice. But, the customer of the meal can purchase an extra soda for the child, thus negating the intended effects the bill hopes to accomplish, the Modesto Bee reports.
Senate Bill SB-1192 Children’s Meal’s passed the Assembly on Thursday but still needs one more vote before being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. If approved, the new law hopes to combat obesity and other disease linked to sugar consumption.
Here is the summary of SB-1192:
“Existing law, the California Retail Food Code, establishes uniform health and sanitation standards for, and provides for regulation by the State Department of Public Health of, retail food facilities, as defined, and requires local enforcement agencies to enforce these provisions. Under existing law, a person who violates any provision of the code is guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
This bill would require a restaurant, as defined, that sells a children’s meal that includes a beverage, to make the default beverage water, sparkling water, or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative, as specified. The bill would not prohibit a restaurant’s ability to sell, or a customer’s ability to purchase, an alternative beverage if the purchaser requests one. The bill would make a violation of its provisions an infraction, but would make the first violation subject to a notice of violation. Under the bill, the 2nd and 3rd violations would be punishable by fines of not more than $250 and $500, respectively. By imposing additional duties on local enforcement agencies and by creating a new crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”
“Kids’ meals shouldn’t come with a side order of diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento.
The Modesto Bee said some restaurants have already taken steps to remove sugary drinks from kids’ meals. McDonald’s announced several years ago that it would end its marketing campaign that included soda in the meals, though they are still available upon request; in February, it pulled chocolate milk from the menu as well.
However, some critics argue it is up to the parents to make those choices, not state or federal government.
“Seriously, like, what’s next?” Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, asked. “Are we going to insist that you have to have kale in your salad unless you specifically ask otherwise?”
SB-1192 now returns to the Senate, where it was overwhelmingly approved in May, then heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
In July, Baltimore became the largest city in the US to pass a similar bill, prohibiting restaurants from serving sugary beverages to kids. Baltimore officials said that if restaurants do not comply with the new ordinance will be fined up to $100.
Judging by the kid in the video, if and when Brown signs the California bill, that could trigger a tremendous backlash in the under 12 community.