Recently introduced Kids’ Meal Bills in Connecticut and Rhode Island would prohibit restaurants from including soft drink beverages on children’s menus and in children’s meals. More specifically, Connecticut House Bill 7006 would limit beverages listed on children’s menus to “water, sparkling water, flavored water with no added sweeteners, unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative,” effective January 1, 2020. It was referred to the Joint Committee on Children on January 31, 2019, and is one of the agenda items to be considered at the Committee’s Public Hearing this Thursday.
Connecticut’s bill defines “Nondairy milk alternative” as “a fluid milk substitute that meets the standards established pursuant to the National School Lunch Program meal requirements for lunches and requirements for afterschool snacks.” By way of background, flavored, low-fat milk was temporarily added to the milk option in the National School Lunch Program in November 2017 and on December 12, 2018, USDA published a final rule in the Federal Register to codified that change, effective February 11, 2019 (see 86 FR 63776).
Rhode Island’s Health Beverage Act, 2019 – S 0179, was introduced on January 24, 2019, and referred to the State’s Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee. It specifies that default beverages in children’s meals must be one of the following:
Water, sparkling water, or flavored water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners;
Nonfat or 1% milk or non-dairy milk alternative containing no more than 130 calories per container and/or serving; or
100% fruit juice or fruit juice combined with water or carbonated water, with no added sweeteners.
While several states introduced similar legislation last year, California was the only state to pass a Kids’ Meal Bill (see our August 29, 2019 blog for details). However, efforts to eliminate sweetened soft drinks from children’s menus are continuing into the current legislative session.