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Healthy drinks mandate for kids meals heads to Gov. Carney

Delaware Public Media

Kids in Delaware could soon get fewer sugary drinks when eating out.

State Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown’s (D-New Castle) bill would require restaurants to make healthier beverages the default drink in children’s meals. It’s headed to Gov. John Carney after passing the legislature last week. A spokesman for Carney said the governor supports the legislation.

Minor-Brown’s measure doesn’t bar restaurants from selling alternatives like soda or the purchaser requesting that.

But State Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) voted no on the bill. He said he opposes creating a mandate.

“My concern is, you know, where does this stop, right," he said. "What’s the next step? We’re going to outlaw Big Macs? Because I think that’s coming, right? And I guarantee you the people who are going to say we need to outlaw Big Macs will be good people.”

Supporters of the legislation say it creates an opt out rather than an opt in.

Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker said she hopes reducing children’s intake of sugary beverages will also lower the state’s childhood obesity rate.

“And the long-term consequences of obesity and exposure to sugar-sweetened beverages really does lead to long term health consequences and poor behavior choices,” she said.

The bill allows water to be flavored, but must have no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. The juice also can’t have added sugar or artificial sweeteners. The milk can also be flavored or be a non-dairy substitute.

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