If you are a vending operator, you will be affected and need to be familiar with the new law. As part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, anyone who owns or operates at least 20 vending machines will be required to disclose calorie counts of every article of food. This includes any coke, snack, soda, candy or combo machine which sells consumable items.
The section specifically states “the vending machine operator must provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.” (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-06/html/2011-8037.htm) More currently, in 2017, the FDA has finalized the rule requiring that operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exemptions. (https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm217762.htm)
I believe there are a number of ways that a vending operator can fulfill the requirements of this law and I’d like to offer a few suggestions: Possibly the simplest solution is to print a label or sign listing each of the vending items in your machine, and then post it on the machine itself or on a wall next to it. To avoid replacing your sign whenever new snacks or drinks are added to your machine, I would include additional snacks and drinks that you may not currently have in the machine.
If the sign on the machine is too tacky for your tastes, another option that some machines have is the Digital Media option. Many of our combo and healthy machines have this Digital Media Link on the top of the machines which will display photos or other messages that you upload onto a thumb-drive and plug into the Digital Media player. So you can include pictures of your vending items as well as the calorie counts or other nutritional information, which will fade in and out of view.
As I have previously blogged about, many vending machines today feature a credit card reader that also displays nutritional values of each food item being vended. This is exciting new technology that can be uploaded automatically to the touch-screen card reader and shows not only the calorie count but also all of the vitamins, minerals, fats, serving sizes, etc. The new health care legislation which will be implemented through the Food and Drug Administration not only applies to the vending industry, but also applies to restaurants and other food establishments.
So whether you agree with it or not, you will be seeing nutritional displays on restaurant menus, menu boards and even drive through window menu boards very soon. I listed just three ways to implement the new health care law and I’d be interested in hearing your plans for the new law as well.