Debate Grows Over Bill Aiming To Remove Junk Food From State Offices
AB 459, by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would require that half of the food in vending machines on state grounds meet nutritional guidelines by the beginning of 2015.
It would require that 75% of food and 100% of beverages in vending machines meet the guidelines by 2016 and that 100% of food meet such standards by 2017 (Hsu/Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 5/7).
The bill is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations (Gorn, "Capitol Desk," California Healthline, 5/6).
Support for Bill
Supporters of the bill say that the state should not condone the sale of sodas and unhealthy snacks in public employees' work environments.
Harold Goldstein -- executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy -- said, "It is unreasonable to expect California taxpayers to be footing the bill for skyrocketing health care costs for workers who end up with diabetes and heart disease when the state itself is contributing to those problems."
Opposition to the Bill
Opponents of the bill argue that it is comparable to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (I)Â proposed ban on large, sugary drinks, which the New York state court struck down in March.
They say that California officials should not be involved in consumers' choices about food and beverages.
Harry Begian -- a delegate with the California Vendors Policy Committee -- said vending machine owners often throw out half of the more nutritious food because the items reach their expiration dates. He said that when consumers have a choice between healthy food and junk food, they choose junk food more than 90% of the time.Begian added, "This bill is going to put us out of business because people won't want to buy from us" if healthy options replace junk food items (Los Angeles Times, 5/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.