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Healthy snacks added to county bldg. vending machines after P.G. council passes law

Vending machine (ABC7 file photo)
Vending machine (ABC7 file photo)
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A new law has been passed by the Prince George's County City Council Tuesday requiring 50 percent of healthy snacks to be carried in vending machines in county buildings.

Under this law, healthy snacks must meet recommended nutritional guidelines for sugar, salt and fat, and other criterion set by the American Heart Association.

Bottled water will also be offered in every drink vending machine in county buildings.

Akil Patterson of Sugar Free Kids Maryland looks at a vending machine like this and sees a problem.

"You'll see most of the products that are right at eye level of our young kids and families are all loaded with sugars," says Patterson.

The bill applies to all P.G. County facilities including recreation centers..its does not apply to the school system which already has its own healthy vending policies.

"We want to make sure we are not telling people what they have to eat, but providing them affordable options so they can eat healthier," says Prince George's Councilman Mel Franklin.

In April 2017, similar legislation was approved by the Montgomery County City Council and the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.

A lobbyist for the beverage industry says they don’t support or oppose the bill but are already responding to market forces.

"Providing them smaller options less calories even less sugar," says Ellen Valentino from the Maryland beverage association.

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Anti-sugar activist Patterson says the bill just speeds up the process..."we just want to make sure the options are available."

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