City of Toronto to require 50% Healthy vending drinks by 2012

By next year, Toronto will require 50% of beverages sold in parks and other city facilities to be classified as healthy products. Originally, the proposal was for 100% but City Council relented to pressure from vending contractors. Toronto follows the example of Boston, San Francisco and other major US and Canadian cities in taking a stand against unhealthy eating options.

Vending machines in city parks facilities will be required to have just 50 per cent of their beverages classified as healthy – and the city will go ahead with its plans to ban bottled water from vending machines this coming December.

That was the word from Toronto Council, after it debated a request for proposals for operators of vending machines in city facilities.

Late in the last term, Toronto Council asked city staff to come back with a policy that would get both sugary soft drinks and bottled water out of city facilities, and fill the vending machines with healthier beverages such as milk and 100 per cent fruit juice and vegetable beverages.

That plan was to have seen the offending drinks phased out, with half of everything sold being healthy by 2012, and 100 per cent of beverages sold at city facilities be healthy by 2015.

Last month, the city’s government management committee voted to revise that, and cap the requirement at 50 per cent healthy vending.

Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan makes an interesting point in the Inside Toronto article. Cities are taking these difficult stands not only based on pressure from city consumers and health authorities but for bottom dollar concerns.

“What we’re trying to do is help people make healthy choices, limit the effect that their health has on the tax base and the environment, and recognize that the freedom to make a bad choice still exists.”

via InsideToronto Article: Freedom to choose important in vending machine debate.

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