Food Policy Grocery Health Packaged Food Science Sweets

Berkeley Passes ‘Healthy Checkout’ Bill, Clearing Junk Food From Checkout Aisles

Photo: David Tonelson // Shutterstock

The checkout aisle of grocery stores isn’t home to just a cash register; there’s also a variety of candies, chips, and sweets you can pick up. This front of store promotion is often where kids of all ages can get their sugar cravings satisfied, but also helps push and market junk food products.

If you could change the products available in the checkout aisle to be less caloric and sugar-laden, it might have an effect in helping combat obesity. The city of Berkeley is willing to give that a shot, as they became the first city to pass a “healthy checkout” bill.

The new law, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News, applies to grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet. It restricts products available at the checkout stands to those with no more than 5 grams of added sugar or less than 250 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Junk food itself isn’t banned in these stores, and could be found in the regular candy, chips, or snacks sections. This law just takes that prime product placement section and has stores give better-for-you options a shot in that area.

Policymakers hope that the new ordinance helps redefine what “treating yourself” means when picking up convenient snacks on the way out of the store. Replacing candy bars and the like with better-for-you snack bars, fruits, nuts, and more could help encourage healthier snacking habits.

Berkeley is known for establishing precedent for laws involving nutrition and sustainability that get passed elsewhere. Their 2014 soda tax, for example, has led to similar actions in other parts of the United States.

How this law will change snacking habits, and whether it catches on nationwide, will be seen when it goes into effect in March 2021. Enforcement via health inspections will begin in 2022.

Food Policy Grocery Health Packaged Food Sweets

Mexico’s New Junk Food Labels Face Fierce Opposition From U.S., Other World Powers

In October 2020, Mexico is poised to take a monumental step forward to combat junk food and obesity issues the country faces. Already, black octagon labels are showing up on the front packaging of food products that warn of foods with excessive calories, sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fat.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

These labels are designed to meet requirements the Mexican government will enforce starting in October: requirements that, apparently, the US and other world powers oppose.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

According to Reuters, a meeting minutes document from the World Trade Organization shows the US, Canada, the European Union, and Switzerland trying to persuade Mexico to delay their labeling enforcement for anywhere from 1-2 years.

The United States, for example, expressed support to combat obesity, but thinks the regulations are “more trade restrictive than necessary to meet Mexico’s legitimate health objectives,” arguing that “Mexico has chosen more stringent nutrient thresholds than the thresholds set by other countries.”

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

All of the countries supported a delay, with reasoning behind it being the impact of COVID-19 on the food and beverage industry. A Mexican government official told Reuters that they objected to delaying the rules.

Laws that combat obesity and reveal high-calorie and junk foods are gaining more traction globally. Chile was one of the first to introduce such laws in 2016, and saw a reduction in the consumption of sugary drinks by 23%. Some American cities, including Berkeley, have also implemented sugar taxes in recent years that showed similar results. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also found that regulations such as these are instrumental in reducing obesity globally.

The United States itself has food labeling regulations that require added sugars to be marked in the Nutrition Facts, but the Trump Administration’s FDA has indefinitely delayed enforcement of the labels.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

Lobbyist groups from both the United States and Canada have also put pressure on Mexico for these laws in the past. Mexico first passed the legislation in October of 2019, giving the industry a year to make the labeling changes.

Initial rules in the now-ratified US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would have prevented any front-of-packaging labeling of the sort to be issued. While this did not make it into the final agreement following media attention to the rules, the finalized version still has a clause that “technical regulations concerning labels… do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.”

The United States is a known bully when it comes to food packaging labeling, having challenged multiple countries over their laws in the past, claiming them to be a threat to US trade and business interests. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA officials criticized multiple countries for such regulations in their most recent National Trade Estimate report.

Canada, who has its own front-of-packaging law, is already facing such challenges from US and Canadian lobbyist groups over its rules.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

Combatting junk food through labeling has already proven to have a significant effect in reducing obesity. Mexico is taking a stronger approach than most countries, including local trading partners like the US, with its new regulations, leading to such political pressure.

We’ll have to see if any more challenges come to Mexico’s legislation as the October enforcement of the labeling draws nearer.

Health News

Doctor Says Evidence Behind ‘Bad Foods’ Is Flimsy, Advises To Eat What You Want

It’s one thing to learn that swallowing gum isn’t that harmful, or that your stomach won’t explode by combining soda with Pop Rocks, but to suggest the nutritional information we’ve grown with and adhered to as “weak,” takes food myth busting to perhaps its ultimate level.

That is what Dr. Aaron Carroll, author of “The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully,” believes, and goes as far to say that we can and should eat whatever the hell we want without much worry.

In an interview with NPR, Carroll explained himself, saying that a lot of nutritional studies are based on animals, and the best we can conclude about them is that there are some “associations.” He thinks nothing is concrete, however, and that foods we deem unhealthy, are done so unfairly.

“All the data that’s behind making you think these foods are bad for you, is pretty weak,” Carroll said to NPR. “…if you just take some sensible ideas and try to eat in moderation, and not worry about it too much, you’ll probably be much healthier and certainly much happier.”

It does seem like he means unprocessed foods, though, as he still suggests to stay the hell away from anything processed.

With that said, according to his Bad Food Bible, salt is cool, red meat isn’t the devil, and wine in moderation is a must for your heart health.

Carroll also gives a thumbs up to soda, according to Business Insider, saying that artificial sweetener studies are conducted on vulnerable mice, and have a laughable amount of errors on them.

This dude basically shits on years of food research and questions it all.

Carroll may or may not be right, but from personal research I’ve conducted, 29 years of soda, tacos, and pizza have given me a rotund belly that’s been hard to carry around. But, take for example, The Rock, who has eaten fish, lean chicken, and veggies all his life and looks like a Greek god who can lift a bulldozer with his bare hands. I don’t know how accurate the research is behind The Rock’s diet, but I’d trust it anyway.


9 Foods You Wouldn’t Expect To Find In A Vending Machine

When you think of vending machines, you think of gifts of gloriously cheap and convenient snacks and beverages to keep you going throughout the day. However, the world is beginning to spin these contraptions in brand new directions, and you can find all sorts of crazy things in vending machines that nobody would have dreamed of putting in there just a few years ago.

Read on to see nine things you would never expect to find in a vending machine.

Pet Food

It sounds really weird for pet food to be coming out of a machine, right? Well, it turns out this one is actually for a great cause, as the machine, created by Turkish company Pugedon, is designed to feed stray pets in urban areas. All you have to do is drop off a recyclable bottle, and the bottom tray of the vending machine will dispense some food for the strays to eat. It’s an odd but awesome way to take care of pets on the streets, that’s for sure.

Italian Pasta

The Barilla vending machine shown in this Bicom clip will actually cook pasta for you, with sauce, in a short amount of time. While you can make pasta at home for much cheaper than what this machine charges you, it’s an interesting remedy for anyone who forgot to bring their lunch one day.

Live Minnows

We’ve seen live crabs in vending machines before that you can take home, but minnows? You can buy small cans of them to use as fishing bait from this particular vending machine shown in YouTuber’s Village Tackle vid. The longer they’re alive, the more likely fish are to catch them, I guess…

Fried Foods

I don’t think anybody expects to get their lunch out of a vending machine. If you have a hankering for fast-food items like chicken nuggets, you’d rather just go to the restaurant and get them yourself. Of course, convenience and unique Japanese vending machines say otherwise, and so, here we have YouTuber Venus Angelic ordering fried chicken out of a machine. Yes, fried chicken.


MyCupcakeAddiction got to check out this crazy cupcake ATM at Sprinkles cupcakes in Los Angeles, CA, that lets you customize your dessert and delivers it to you in a sleek box. Upon watching, I’m just baffled at how they make this happen. It’s attached to the cupcake shop, so maybe they just make it super fast and put it on a conveyor to the machine? Or maybe the machine just knows how to custom-build cupcakes? It’s a mystery that needs solving.


If you’re in extreme need of on-the-go, speedy burritos, this vending machine may be your choice. ETC Show checked it out and found it to be pretty interesting. The machine lets you pick your burrito, additional toppings, and then plays catchy music while you wait. Sounds super cool, but honestly, I can get a custom-made fresh burrito in the same amount of time from a fast-casual spot. Is it really worth that extra convenience for this burrito vending machine to exist? We say yes.

Canned Bread

Okay, bread is fine enough when properly packaged in a vending machine. But what is the point of sticking bread into a can? Not sure if it does anything to help the bread out orrrr…? So many odd questions, so few answers. Watch as japanesestuffchannel takes one home in this video, and tbh, it actually looks pretty delicious once pulled apart.

Mashed Potatoes

The reaction of the HLN newscasters in this video says it all for this mashed potato vending machine. You get some liquid mashed potatoes out of this vending machine that then gets topped off with brown gravy. They’re definitely using instant potatoes to make this product, which makes sense since it’s a vending machine.


Japan really loves its wacky vending machines, and this sweet crepe-filled contraption shown in this Only in Japan video is one of the special ones out there. Found in Kagoshima, you can pick from a variety of crepe flavors for a portable treat — including custard, caramel, Hershey’s chocolate and even potato. It looks like there are dozens and dozens of flavors to choose from and I now know where my next vacation is going to be.


Health Video

Watch What Would Happen If You Never Stopped Eating

We live in a culture of excess eats and food challenges. Sure, watching a professional eater like Matt Stonie crush burgers, fries, and fried chicken in one sitting is entertaining, but we’re not about to go out and emulate him. Heck, pretty sure he eats much healthier when he’s not on camera.

But have you ever wondered what would happen if you never stopped eating?

Life Noggin takes a look at the adverse effects of overindulgence when it comes to food in their latest entry.

The video covers all the potential health risks of eating too much sugar, sodium, trans fat, and other nutrients and minerals. Needless to say, some potential outcomes can be downright terrifying.

Check out the video as they give you a detailed explanation of all the harmful effects that come from overeating. Man, definitely makes us rethink going in for that last slice of pizza. Maybe we’ll grab a salad or something. Enough’s enough.

Culture Health News

UK’s Healthy Meals Are Actually Cheaper Than Junk Food, Based On Report


One of the biggest reasons I hear that people don’t purchase healthy food, is that it’s expensive. Everybody perceives healthy food, such as food from Whole Foods and other specialty stores, to be much more expensive than other stores, but this study just proved everybody wrong on that front.

A new report from the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) concluded that healthy food purchased at two of the country’s leading supermarkets was significantly cheaper than their junk food variants across 78 different food and drink products. The cost was based by edible weight, and unhealthy foods were shown to be more costly per kilogram.

A typical cheeseburger, which costs a Euro, could easily be replaced by ten apples, seven bananas, or over five pounds of pasta — all of which cost the exact same price.

The cheapness of junk food has often been used as a reason to justify obesity issues in countries like the United Kingdom and United States. This study debunks that theory, at least when it comes to food prices in the UK. Head researcher Chris Snowdon offered up alternative theories for the increase in obesity in an interview with Foodbeast:

“First, food in general is cheaper than ever and so it is easy to eat too much of it. Many of the food groups that are defined as healthy by the UK government can easily be consumed to excess, particularly starchy carbohydrates such as pasta and potatoes. As late as the 1970s, there were millions of people who were not obese simply because it is was not affordable for them to be. Real incomes have since doubled, even among low income groups, so that is no longer the case.”
“The second point is that physical activity has declined steeply as a result of the decline in manual labour and the advance of labour saving devices. Public Health England estimates that physical activity has declined by 24% since the 1960s. (Note that overall physical activity is distinct from leisure time activity, such as going to the gym. The latter has risen, partly as a response to the decline in activity at home and at work, but not enough to offset that decline.)”
“These two factors, taken together, are sufficient to explain the rise in obesity seen since the 1970s.”
So the United Kingdom is eating more and exercising less — things that can easily be reverted to combat obesity.
Healthier food could also potentially be cheaper than junk food in the United States. Although a Harvard study showed that the healthiest possible diet costs $1.50 per day more than a diet based on junk food here, it’s possible that diets that incorporate healthy food could be cheaper.
Along with the factors that Chris Snowdon mentioned above, another factor that contributes to obesity is food insecurity. Millions of Americans don’t have a grocery store that they can go to on a regular basis to purchase food. As such, many of them rely on junk food and processed items as sources of nutrition, which are definitely a major contributor to the obesity problems in America.
In comparison, the United Kingdom addresses its food security by importing 40% of the food that it’s population consumes to ensure it has a constant food supply. This puts a significant proportion of its food supply in danger, as it relies on the success of other countries’ agricultural production to feed its people.
While these factors all play in to obesity, we can all do our part to combat obesity by purchasing less junk food and purchasing more healthy food. It will influence the industry to produce more healthy products and help us all learn to cook at home more.

And in the UK, it’s now proven to be cheaper than purchasing junk food as well.

Culture Health News What's New

The UK Just Announced A Ban Of Online Junk Food Ads To Take On Child Obesity

Photo: Kid Around Magazine

Childhood obesity is a major issue in countries across the world, with advertising of junk food targeted to kids often cited as a huge driver of this epidemic. The UK has just taken a strong stance against this type of advertising.

Their Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) just announced a complete ban on advertising foods that are high in fat, salt, and/or sugar (known as HFSS foods). This ban, scheduled to begin July 1st of next year, includes traditional advertising methods, like television commercials, product placement in movies/TV shows, and print advertising.

What’s huge for this particular ban, however, is that it also includes online and social media advertising of HFSS foods. This comes in response to research that children are spending more time on the internet than on TV for the first time in history.

A summation of what the rules exactly entail are as follows, according to the CAP’s website:

Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media


Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience


Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options


The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS

While junk food advertising has been banned in UK’s children show’s for around a decade, but online advertising bans are definitely a new angle. Quebec is one of the few other countries to have already banned electronic advertising of junk foods – and has the lowest childhood obesity rate in all of Canada.

In comparison, the U.S. has voluntary initiatives, like the Child’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, that companies can undertake to pledge to not advertise to specific age groups. No hard bans exist on this advertising, however, which may be a reason why the United States has one of the world’s fastest-growing rates in childhood obesity.

Maybe we could take a lesson or two from our friends across the pond.


Here’s Why Target Is Removing Junk Food From Check Out Lanes


Every time we’re in the checkout line, we’re tempted to grab a candy bar or a Slim Jim for the road. While Target knows this, the retailer wants to take a healthier approach as it plans to remove junk food from the checkout aisles.

Fortune reports that Target will begin testing the new, junk food-less, layout in 30 stores next month.

Christina Hennington, Target’s senior vice president, said in a press conference that the move is both a business opportunity as well as a moral imperative. They’re trying to improve the health of the nation.

No longer will customers be tempted with a four pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or a bag of carne aside beef jerky. Rather, Target will take advantage of the health food boom and stock its checkout lanes with items like KIND bars and Simply Balanced products.

At the press conference, Hennington told attendees that Target’s trying to “nudge” customers into being more healthy, without coming off as a “nagging parent.”

If successful, Target could start removing all junk food from the front of its stores. Guess we’ll have to walk to the snack section to get our fix. The horror.

Photo: Yelp