District passes first-of-its-kind law targeting snack food brands — including Doritos, Cheetos, and Sara Lee

We tend to hear a lot of information about whether snack foods are good for us — but much less about whether they are good for our planet. Now, a new law in Southern California has taken aim at the latter issue.

Starting in 2027, Canary Media reported, the nearly 100 commercial food-making facilities operating 218 commercial ovens in the South Coast district will be required to meet a zero-emissions limit for nitrogen oxides, a group of gases that have harmful effects such as creating smog and irritating people’s respiratory systems.

The law is the first of its kind in the United States and will cover an area that is home to such food manufacturers as Frito-Lay (which produces Cheetos, Doritos, Lay’s, and more), Bimbo Bakeries USA (Sara Lee, Entenmann’s, etc.), and Snak-King (El Sabroso, The Whole Earth, etc.). That means that many of your favorite snack foods will soon be made in electric ovens, with their direct emissions doing no harm to the people and environments of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

Currently, these facilities all use gas ovens that, in addition to producing copious nitrogen oxides, also emit carbon dioxide and leak unburned methane, both of which contribute to the overheating of our planet.

Los Angeles, in particular, has notoriously bad air quality, with at least one report having named it as the city with the most polluted air in the U.S. This new law aims to help address that issue.

Making the switch from gas ovens to electric ovens may be a challenge for Southern California’s food manufacturers, as commercial electric ovens are not yet widely produced by U.S. equipment manufacturers. However, regulators and environmentalists have argued that this type of law is needed to encourage equipment manufacturers to ramp up production of those models; by creating a demand for nonpolluting commercial kitchen equipment, the supply should follow.

So, while some of the companies that will be affected by this new law may not be happy about having to shell out money for new equipment, that means they are not allowed to continue to pollute the air with no consequences while trying to maximize profits.

“Hopefully, it’s the first of many of these regulations,” Adrian Martinez, a Los Angeles-based attorney for Earthjustice, told Canary Media. ​“This is the start of what’s going to be an effort to get the entire food and beverage manufacturing industry to zero emissions.”

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