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Berkeley Approves 'Healthy Checkout Ordinance' Banning Junk Food Sales By Grocery Registers

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- Nearly six years after voters approved a tax on soda, Berkeley officials approved banning unhealthy food from being sold at checkout aisles at most grocery stores.

"Last Night, the Berkeley City Council unanimously passed the 'Healthy Checkout Ordinance,'" Councilmember Kate Harrison told KPIX 5. "The first in the world to require that food right near the cash register be healthy choices."

Starting next March, stores larger than 2,500 square feet must have only wholesome food for customers to look at while waiting to check out.

One of those stores is Mi Tierra. Store Manager Rafael Del Rio said the last minute shopping impulse is real.

"We noticed that people tend to purchase that which is accessible to them at the last minute or they're about to pay, out of impulse or just out of visually attracted to the product or being hungry or whatever the situation may be.," Del Rio said.

Mi Tierra already limits junk food at its registers. They still have candy but one has to look for it.

"We do have a variety of candies that we sell and sweets and bread and stuff but, like I said, everything is still accessible in the store. The idea is to promote a different thought," said Del Rio

Some folks are not sure the idea of government controlling the shelves is OK. Councilmember Harrison has an answer for that too.

"You can buy anything you want, just not within two feet of the register so, it's right behind you," Harrison said. "If you really want that thing, go ahead!"

While the measure goes into effect early next year, enforcement of the new ordnance won't take place until January 1, 2022.

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