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M&Ms derail healthy snack bill in Suffolk

A bag of peanut M&Ms derailed legislation that would have added options for healthy snacks at Suffolk County beaches, vending machines and county park concessions.

During a debate Tuesday night on the bill of Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), some lawmakers expressed opposition based on arguments about the free market and whether the bill was trying to "parent" free choice.

But Hahn continued to move forward with it until Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) held up a yellow bag of peanut M&Ms.

Under the bill, snacks couldn't be sold in vending machines in the county if they had more than 10 grams of sugar, unless they are fruits, vegetables or yogurt.

Trotta noted his bag of M&Ms has 25 grams of sugar.

"That could be un-American," Trotta joked.

"We might need an M&M exception," Hahn noted. "It was not my intention to exclude peanut M&M's. Based on that fact, I make a motion to table."

Hahn said later she would make changes to the bill and would bring it back.

The measure covered snack shacks at beaches and vending machines at county buildings. It excluded county golf courses and the Long Island Ducks Stadium and the jail.

The tabled bill would have required that a certain percentage of items at county facilities be healthy options.For example, "at least 66% of the snacks shall contain no more than 200 milligrams of sodium." A third of desserts offered at county consessionaires would have to be under 200 calories.

Legis. Lou D'Amaro (D-North Babylon) argued that the bill constituted "parenting" and would hurt county vendors, who sell what consumers want.

Hahn said the public should have more healthy choices at county facilities. The bill would have applied to future vendor contracts as they came up.

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