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Ontario MPP’s junk food bill would remove tasty treats from cash checkout areas

By: Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ontario Nickel Belt New Democrat MPP and official opposition health critic France Gélinas wants people to stop buying so much junk food.

Gélinas has introduced a bill at Queen’s Park to remove the tempting racks of junk food and other treats with high fat, high sugar and high sodium content that are often located near cash register checkouts.

“Since the pandemic started, lines at the cash register have gotten longer, as have the waits,” said Gélinas.

“Marketers know that strategically placing high fat, sugar and sodium foods in those lineups pay off. It’s time to stop tempting Ontario’s consumers to eat more junk food. This initiative started in the UK, and I’m hoping to bring it to Ontario and help people make healthy choices.”

A news release from Gélinas’ office said the bill is called the Temptation Be Gone Act and allows the government to make regulations that restrict the sales and marketing of certain treats — including restrictions on what can be located right next to the cash register.

“I want to thank Pharmacist Rachelle Rocha from Season’s Pharmacy and Culinaria in Sudbury for bringing this issue to my attention,” said Gélinas. “Her focus on healthy fresh foods as medicine is simple and smart.”

Rocha commented that the idea of the bill is to create a path to a healthier community.

“The evidence is mounting; there are serious health implications from the chronic consumption of ultra-processed foods, which are high in sugar, fat and salt and low in fibre. Individuals suffer, and the payors of the health care system face higher and higher costs,” said Rocha. 

Rocho likened the legislation to the environmental laws that saw the transformation of Sudbury during the re-greening effort of the 1980s and 1990s.

“This ‘Temptation Be Gone’ legislation, which regulates the sale of these edible, food-like substances, gives me great hope, that we too, as individuals, and as a community, can achieve better health outcomes,” said Rocha.

The Gélinas news release said the idea was also endorsed by Stephen Piazza, Senior Manager of Advocacy for the Canadian Cancer Society.

“About four in 10 cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Ontarians. Restricting foods and beverages high in saturated fat, sugars and sodium at point of sale and incentivizing healthier options are important steps towards building healthier food environments that ultimately support cancer prevention. 

“The Canadian Cancer Society supports the ‘Temptation Be Gone’ bill and commends MPP France Gélinas’ leadership in promoting healthy food choices for Ontarians,” said Piazza.

Further endorsement came from Liz Scanlon, Director at Heart & Stroke Ontario, said the news release.

 “Good nutrition is one of the most important contributors to good health. Heart & Stroke believes that public policy can be instrumental in encouraging healthy eating.  That’s why we support efforts to restrict the promotion of highly processed foods with high fat, sodium and sugar content. This is one important factor in making sure that, especially for children and youth in Ontario, healthy eating becomes a life-long behavior,” said Scanlon.

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