Snack foods and sugary drinks will be relocated from grocery checkout lanes next year in Perris, California, following the passage of a new city ordinance.
The ordinance, which requires grocers larger than 2,500 square feet to make healthy food and beverages the “default option” at checkout lanes, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Perris is the second known municipality to approve an ordinance requiring grocers to remove junk food from checkout lanes in an effort to promote healthier eating. The city of Berkeley, California, passed a similar ordinance in 2020.
Under the new ordinance, grocers would have to move items like candy bars and high-sugar soft drinks at least 6 feet away from any cash register in the store.
Beverages would need to contain no more than 40 calories and no more than 200 milligrams of sodium per container. Food items would have to follow the same sodium guidelines, and no more than 35% of the total calories can come from sugars (or 10 grams).
The ordinance surfaced as part of The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Healthy Checkout Initiative,” urging grocers to remove unhealthy products from checkout areas of grocery stores.
“The city of Perris is excited to join this initiative and help promote healthy food options in our community,” said Perris City Manager Clara Miramontes in a statement. “We are committed to the long-term health and wellness of residents and look forward to successful results.”
Holly Scheider, who helped spearhead the campaign in Berkeley, said in an email response to questions that research out of the United Kingdom, which has a national law on healthy checkout options, shows that removing the items reduces impulse purchases of unhealthy food like candy and soda.
“In Berkeley you can see a notable difference in checkout aisles of two similar grocery stores, less than a mile apart,” Scheider said, noting that a store nearby has the usual assortment of candy and soda, while stores in Berkeley carry products like lip balm, magazines, fruit, nuts and throat lozenges. "Candy and soda are available in the store for those who seek it, just not for impulse purchase and at kid eye level.”
The city of Perris noted in a press release issued in March that the ordinance will not prevent grocers from selling items that exceed the nutritional guidelines in other areas of the store.
The city said the initiative was backed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley. “As a youth-serving organization, we are excited to see healthier options at checkout to help create a brighter and healthier future in Perris for our youth,” said Julia Burch, assistant director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley, in a statement.