New Law Would Ban Use of Food Stamps on Soda, Energy Drinks, and Junk Food

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A proposed bill would reshape how food stamps could be used across an entire state. If the legislation passes, items like energy drinks, sodas, candy, cookies, potato chips, and even some juice drinks would no longer be eligible for purchase with food stamps. Should the legislation pass, the changes would go into effect on September 1.

Texas House Bill 4364 would dramatically change the use of food stamps in the state. According to a report by ABC News, the bill was filed in March by Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain.

Energy drinks are one of the items being targeted by the bill. The legislation defines an energy drink as being any beverage that contains a minimum of “65 milligrams of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces that is advertised as being specifically designed to provide metabolic stimulation or an increase to the consumer’s mental or physical energy.”

The bill does note that coffee and coffee-based beverages would not be considered energy drinks.

Sweetened beverages would also be affected by the bill and would be banned from the food stamp program if it passes. The definition of “sweetened beverages” in the legislation covers nonalcoholic beverages with added natural or artificial sweeteners, including “a soft drink, a fruit or vegetable juice, and other flavored beverages.”

Carbonated beverages are also listed in the bill as being ineligible for purchase with food stamps.

Many junk foods – including candy, cookies, corn chips, and potato chips – would also be covered by the ban.

Excluded from the ban are drinks where the calories are not related to added sweeteners, weight loss beverages, juices with no added sugars or sweeteners, and certain products fortified with vitamins or minerals or that serve as a source of protein.

However, even if an energy drink provided vitamins, minerals, or protein – or did not have added sugar – it would still be banned.