Last week, we discussed the FDA’s new menu labeling rules for restaurants. The final rule also requires certain vending machine operators to disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines.

Vending Machine Labeling Rules

Who is covered?

The final rule applies to a person who is engaged in the business of owning or operating 20 or more vending machines.

“Vending machine” is defined as “a self-service machine that, upon insertion of a coin, paper currency, token, card, or key, or by optional manual operation, dispenses servings of food in bulk or in packages, or prepared by the machine, without the necessity of replenishing the machine between each vending operation.”

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

When must vending machine operators comply?

Vending machine operators affected by the new rule must comply by December 1, 2016.

How do vending machine operators comply?

Vending machine operators can determine calorie content for foods sold in their vending machines from the food package’s Nutrition Facts Label, the manufacturer or supplier of the food, nutrient databases, cookbooks, or laboratory analyses.

If consumers are able to examine the Nutrition Facts label before purchasing a vending machine item, or if they are otherwise able to view nutrition information at the point of purchase, as specified in the final rule, then vending machine operators are not required to provide further calorie information.

Otherwise, vending machine operators must declare the caloric value of such foods. In general, calorie declarations can be posted on a sign close to the article of food or selection button. The sign need not be attached to the vending machine, but a calorie declaration must be visible at the same time as the food, its name, price, selection button, or selection number is visible. Like menu labeling, calorie declarations on vending machines must comply with similar type size, color and contrast requirements.