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Maryland: Howard County bans sweetened beverages on county property

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman signed an executive order on Dec. 11 to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in parks, libraries and other county properties, and at county-sponsored events. Under the order, all beverages procured, served or sold by county departments must meet the new standards which require: sweetened beverages to have fewer than five calories per serving; fruit and vegetable beverages to contain 100 percent juice with fewer than 120 calories in 8-ounce servings or less; milk and soy options to be unflavored, low-fat or nonfat and contain less than 22 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving or be limited to eight ounces; and drinks with artificial sweeteners be limited to one-quarter of the total beverage offerings.

The order instructs county departments to begin the transition immediately, though only to "the extent possible under existing contracts." It also requires the county health department to review the beverage standards at least every three years. The ban does not apply to county schools, although the Board of Education is revising the school system's wellness policy to "reflect the commitment to wellness throughout the county." The ban drew criticism from and from some citizens and the beverage industry, which argues that public officials should allow consumers to make choices while emphasizing balanced diets and exercise. NAMA and the MD-DC Vending Association board of directors continue to monitor and respond to these and other proposed regulatory and legislative issues, and will keep you informed of anything that may affect you and your businesses. For more information, please contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org. more


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