The FDA has issued their final ruling on Menu and Vending Machine labeling requirements. In part 1 of our blogs on this topic, we answer some of your important questions about labeling requirements for menu items in restaurants and similar retail food establishments. In this blog, part 2, we will review the new requirements for calorie labeling on foods in vending machines.
Let’s take a look at some important questions that many vending machine operators might be asking….
What vending machine operators need to comply?People who own or operate 20 or more vending machines would be “covered” under this ruling and would need to comply.
Some general examples of the definition of “vending machine” could be vending machines that sell prepackaged snacks and beverages, beverage dispensers, prepared foods from a turnstile vending machine, or bulk food machines that dispense a handful of candy or peanuts.
I own less than 20 vending machines and so am not covered, can I still comply?Yes, vending machine operators who are not covered by this ruling may voluntarily register with the FDA.
What type of vending machine might NOT be covered and are exempt?Machines that dispense food items as part of a game, are one example of vending machines that are not covered by these requirements.
What other foods may be exempt or NOT covered by these requirements?If a purchaser can view the nutrition facts panel clearly on the food item, without any obstruction, before they purchase – then additional labeling would not be required for that food item. Also, if there is nutrition information available and able to be viewed on the food item (such as, calories on the front-of-label), then no further calorie labeling would be required. (Further clarificaiton on FOP requirements below.)
I have FOP labeling that shows calories, are these foods exempt?Perhaps they would be exempt, but there are other requirements for FOP (front-of-package) labeling in order to exempt the food. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are the calories that are shown for the entire item? (Not broken up into serving sizes, ie: 2 servings per container.)
- Is the type size of the calories at least 50% of the largest type size on the label?
- Do the calories have sufficient contrasting compared to the rest of the label, so the purchase can clearly distinguish it?
If you can answer yes to all three questions, then that food item may be exempt from further labeling.
A sign must be displayed inside, on or just adjacent to the vending machine that shows the total number of calories for the item.
I do NOT have the calories or a nutrition facts label clearly displayed on my food item inside my vending machines. Where do I need to display it?
When the sign is inside or on the vending machine, the declaration must be in a type size no smaller than the smallest of either the name of the food on the machine (not the food label), selection number, or price of the food. It must also be:
- * Displayed with the same prominence, meaning the same color, or a color at least as conspicuous, as the color of the name or price of the food or selection number; and
- * Set against the same contrasting background, or a background at least as contrasting as the background used for the item it is in close proximity to
When the sign is adjacent to the vending machine, the declaration must be:
- * in a type size large enough to render it likely to be read and understood by the consumer under customary conditions of purchase and use, and
- * in a type that is all black or one color on a white or other neutral background that contrasts with the type color
Vending machine operators or owners that are covered by this ruling need to comply by December 1st, 2016. The initial proposal by the FDA was a one year deadline; however, this has been extended to two years in their final ruling.
When do I need to comply by?
The FDA will use the contact information that is required to show on the vending machine, to contact the owners or operators if they fail to comply.
How will the FDA enforce these regulations?
If a nutrition facts panel is NOT readily available, then you might want to check with the manufacturer of the food item. They may have the analysis already done.
How do I get the calorie information that is needed?
Otherwise, there are two methods that can determine a food item’s calories: data-base analysis and laboratory testing.
For more information on these two methods, please give us a call at 877-753—6631.