The New Orleans Tribune
A new law has taken effect in New Orleans, affecting the default beverage options that come with restaurant kids’ meals. The new law requires that only healthy, non-sugary beverages be marketed as part of kids’ meals at restaurants, making the healthy choice the default choice.
The Healthy Kids’ Meal Beverage Ordinance is a law that was passed by the New Orleans City Council in 2022 to address childhood obesity and chronic disease rates. To further amplify the message, the NOHD will launch the Serve NOLA Kids’ Better campaign to teach and encourage kids to make healthy beverage choices and consume more water. Parents still have the option to ask for sugary drinks if they wish, preserving consumer choice.
“Introducing our kids to small steps towards healthier habits can be important for lifelong better health,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director of the New Orleans Health Department. “This ordinance will help ensure healthy options are the default for kids.”
Under the ordinance, only the following beverages can be listed on the menu with the children’s meal:
- Water (unflavored, unsweetened, uncarbonated)
- Milk (plain, pasteurized cow’s milk with no added caloric sweeteners, low-calorie sweeteners, or flavorings), nonfat or one (1) percent milk, or non-dairy milk alternatives containing no more than 130 calories per container and/or serving
- 100% fruit juice, 6.75 oz or less
Staring Jan. 1, 2023, all New Orleans restaurants that serve a children’s meal are required to change their menus to list only the above beverage options with a children’s meal.
Restaurants found to be in violation of the ordinance the first time will be provided additional education on how to comply. A formal warning will be issued for a second violation within 12 months. For third and subsequent violations within 12 months, the business owner will be subject to a fine of up to $200.
“We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugar in the diets of children, and excess sugar intake contributes to diet-related diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, later in life,” said Jeanie Donovan, Deputy Director of NOHD. The goal of the Serve NOLA Kids Better campaign is to promote and support healthier habits among the youngest New Orleanians.”
Complaints related to restaurant non-compliance will be reported to the Health Department via 3-1-1, via an online complaint form at https://nola.gov/health-department/, or in person at the Health Department in City Hall.