Another City Bans Junk Food at Supermarket Checkout

junk food

Perris, California has become the second U.S. city to ban junk food in supermarket checkout lanes. The new policy requires any grocery store larger than 2,500 square feet to replace soda, chips, and candies with healthier options like fruit, nuts, water, and low-calorie drinks.

The City Council unanimously passed the measure on Feb. 14 and it will go into effect on July 1.

Roughly 450 miles up the coast, Berkeley, California passed a similar ordinance in 2020 that’s now in effect. Berkeley’s ban prohibits any product with more than 5 grams of added sugar or 250 mg of sodium from the checkout aisle.

The campaign to pass Perris’ new junk food policy was led by local organizations Love4Life and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley, alongside statewide advocacy group Public Health Advocates, with support from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

The checkout aisle is premium real estate.

“The checkout aisle is the supermarket equivalent of waterfront property—and food manufacturers typically pay a premium to ensure that soda, chips, and candy bars are visible there,” said Karen Gardner, senior policy associate at CSPI.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a food and health watchdog based in Washington, D.C. One of the organization’s primary objectives is making food retail healthier, with initiatives addressing everything from food labeling to sugary sodas—and, of course, keeping junk food out of the checkout aisle.

“This move will make it easier for consumers to avoid both marketing and impulse purchases of drinks and snacks that are high in sugar and salt,” Gardner said of the Perris policy in a statement. “We hope more communities follow suit and pass similar policies.”

Shoppers want healthy choices made easy.

CPSI wasn’t the only champion of the junk food ban. Mayor Michael Vargas also advocated for the ordinance and the City of Perris’ Youth Advisory Council played a key role in gathering support from the community.

“We’re thrilled that City Council listened to the sweeping call from parents and youth alike in the community,” said Mónica Acevedo Guerrero, program manager for Public Health Advocates.

The substantial support for Perris’ junk food ban reflects a larger trend of consumers wanting retailers to make healthy shopping easier. According to dunhumby’s latest Consumer Trends Tracker, 44% of consumers said it’s very or extremely important for retailers to help them make healthy choices.