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Carrots and Sticks: Compliance Provisions in State Competitive Food Laws—Examples for State and Local Implementation of the Updated USDA Standards

Gourdet CK, Chriqui JF, Piekarz E, Dang Q and Chaloupka FJ. Journal of School Health, 2014; 84(7):466-471.

Background: Competitive foods remain prevalent in schools even though the majority of states' laws have addressed this for several years. Whereas updated federal standards take effect during school year 2014-2015, aspects of competitive food regulation will remain relegated to the states and districts and concerns exist about compliance with the federal standards. This study examined compliance provisions codified into state law that focused on incentives, monetary penalties, or contracts which could provide examples for other jurisdictions.

Methods: Codified statutory and administrative laws effective as of January 2013 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia were compiled using Boolean searches in Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw. All laws were analyzed by 2 study authors to determine the presence and components of relevant provisions.

Results: Eighteen states' laws contained compliance mechanisms including financial and/or programmatic incentives (5 states), contract provisions (11 states), and monetary penalties for noncompliance (7 states). Five states' laws contained a combination of approaches.

Conclusions: Compliance measures help to strengthen competitive food laws by providing state agencies with an enforcement mechanism. Enforcing such provisions will help to create healthier school environments. This study will provide useful insight for governments at all levels as they implement competitive food laws.

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