New York City Council Is Considering Restricting Soda From Kids’ Meals

Fast-food restaurants may soon have to make a major change to their default menus.

fast food
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Fast-food restaurants may soon have to make a major change to their default menus.

Councilman Ben Kallos is a Democrat from Manhattan who is currently sponsoring proposed legislation that the City Council hopes to pass. It’s a measure that would effectively take soda out of meals designed specifically for children, at least by default.

In a report from the New York Post, Council Speaker Corey Johnson recently told reporters that he will back the effort to make water, milk, or whole fruit juices the “default beverage option” for every kids’ meal being served at public restaurants.

“We want our kids to have access to healthy choices and the default beverage options under this bill supports that goal.”

It doesn’t actually ban sodas from kids’ meals, as parents are free to proactively request soda for their child, if they so choose, but the default beverage offered by affected restaurants would have to be a healthier alternative to soda.

Hearings on this legislation against sodas in kids’ meals are expected to happen this fall with the Council Health Committee. If the law passes, it would apply to approximately 24,00 restaurants in New York City, encompassing all five boroughs, according to the report. Fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, and Burger King would be affected by the new restriction.

Previous attempts at banning the sale of large sodas at food outlets and movie theaters failed and went out under former-Mayor Mike Bloomberg. That bill was first introduced in 2014.

The American Beverage Association has reportedly given their support to Kallos’ bill and this current legislation is an update of Bloomberg’s previous attempts to change restaurant menus for children.

Back in 2004, under mounting pressure from the public, McDonald’s discontinued the sale of their “super size” option. The move was an attempt to simplify their menu and create more healthy choices for consumers, according to the company. The major decision by McDonald’s came following the premiere of a documentary called Super Size Me, written, produced, and directed by Morgan Spurlock.

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock made the documentary ‘Super Size Me’ which has prompted restaurant legislation since 2004. Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

In the film, Spurlock eats nothing but McDonalds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for an entire month. He explores the potential negative health effects of eating too much fast food and takes McDonalds, along with other restaurants, to task for promoting huge portions of food and soda as an acceptable diet for regular human consumption.

McDonald’s responded to the claims of the documentary, agreeing with some of Spurlock’s assessments, but disagreeing with others. They ultimately reduced their portion sizes and have since offered a wider variety of healthy options.

Since then, attempts by cities, states, and even at the federal level, to regulate restaurant options for the overall health of the general public, have significantly increased.