On May 26th, 2015, a proposed city ordinance, Article 17.02 Children’s Meals, was unanimously approved by the Davis City Council in Davis, California. The ordinance would require restaurants and fast food chains to make the default beverage option for a children’s meal either milk or water. In an effort to curb the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and related health problems, the proposed ordinance would impose legal sanctions on fast food chains and other restaurants that have their cashiers and waiters market soda with children’s meals. If the purchaser opts for soda, there will be no extra cost. The ordinance requires consumers to request the option to have soda with the kid’s meal, as the default will be milk or water. If a restaurant or fast food chain is discovered to be offering soda as the default, the city will first contact the restaurant but if the behavior continues, the city will issue fines beginning at $100.
Restaurants and fast-food chains were informed of the proposed ordinance through mail and invited to the upcoming public meeting. No restaurant or food chain responded by e-mail or phone to the letter nor attended the meeting. Opponents to the legislation who did attend the public meeting argued the legislation was intrusive and unnecessary.
This novel city ordinance proposal is in alignment with a general trend towards increasing legislation aimed at restaurants and fast food chains to provide customers with information to make health conscious choices. Recent changes to legislation include requiring chain restaurants and similar establishments with at least 20 locations operating under the same name to list the calories for every item on their menu and make available additional serving size suggestions.
The proposed legislation still requires a second council vote and if the ordinance is passed, it will become effective on September 1st, 2015.
Written by Katharine Richter- Research Assistant