In today’s busy world, Americans are eating and drinking about one-third of their calories away from home.  Although consumers can find calories and other nutritional information on the Nutrition Facts Label on packaged foods and beverages they buy in stores, this type of calorie labeling is generally not visible on food from vending machines.

What people eat, and how they make those decisions, is extremely complex and depends on far more than a calorie count. Indeed, many people make choices about what and how much to eat for reasons that has nothing to do with nutrition.  Former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said, “People can clearly benefit by knowing more, and the new FDA rules will help to do just that.”

To implement the vending food labeling provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established requirements for providing calorie declarations for food/beverages sold from certain vending machines. The final rule was effective December 1, 2016.

This new calorie labeling will be consistent nationwide and will provide easy-to-understand nutrition information in a direct and accessible manner. These new FDA regulations will be especially helpful to consumers.

Vending machine calorie labeling is required for vending machine operators who operate 20 or more machines.  In general, the final rule’s definition of “vending machine” encompasses, but is not be limited to, those vending machines that sell soft drinks, packaged snacks, hot-and-cold cup beverages, refrigerated prepared food (such as those sold from turnstile vending machines), and handfuls of nuts or candies (such as those sold from bulk vending machines).

Unless calories are already visible (front-of-package calorie disclosure) on the actual food packages, calories will need be posted on a sign, such as a small placard, sticker or poster, on electronic or digital displays near the food item, or on the vending machine’s selection button.  To ensure visibility of the calorie information on any sign, the rule contains certain requirements that relates to size and color of font, and contrast color of the background. For more information on this topic, please see Section 5.4. – Are there Type Size and Color Requirement for the Calorie Declarations? in the following article:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ucm513902.htm

If a vended food is one where the purchaser selects options (sugar, milk, cream, etc.) to produce a final vended product (coffee, hot chocolate or tea), calories must be provided for each option or for the final vended product.

For items such as gum, mints and roll candy sold from glass-front vending machines, the FDA is extending the compliance date to July 26, 2018.   To obtain further information about the FDA’s extended compliance on certain foods, please check out the following article: http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm510071.htm

For more information – The FDA’s Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines; http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ucm513902.htm

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