Washington lawmaker wants to regulate drinks in kids’ meals

A bill in the Washington legislature could regulate the types of drinks allowed in kids' meals.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill that would regulate drinks that come in restaurant kids’ meals made it past a first reading in the opening day of the Washington legislature.

House Bill 2383 was proposed by Rep. Monica Jurado Stonier, a Democrat who represents the Vancouver area.

It would require that restaurants that sell children’s meals make the default beverage that comes with the drink one of the following: water, sparkling water, or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners; unflavored milk; or a nondairy milk alternative that has no more than 130 calories per serving.

The bill would not prohibit restaurants from selling alternatives, like soda, but the default would have to be one of the above options.

According to the proposed bill, local health departments would enforce the rule. A restaurant that violates it would get a written warning for the first violation. A second violation in a five-year period would elicit a fine of up to $250. A third violation in that period would raise the fine to up to $500.

Other states and cities have proposed similar legislation in recent years. New York City, for example, passed a mandate with the same language earlier this year.

That legislation quoted research that said beverages are the source of 47 percent of added sugars consumed by kids and adults each day.

The bill was introduced Monday in the state legislature and referred to the House local government committee for further consideration.