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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 5, May 2011, Posted On: 4/19/2011

FDA Nutrition Labeling Director Will Discuss Proposed Vending Rule

Tim Sanford
Felicia Billingslea, Food and Drug Administration, calorie disclosure rule, vending, vending machine, vending machine business, vending industry, vending machine menu, FDA vending machine calorie disclosure, National Automatic Merchandising Association, NAMA, vending machine operator, calorie disclosure requirements, health care reform

CHICAGO -- Felicia Billingslea, the director of the Food and Drug Administration's food labeling and standards staff, will lead a business session on the proposed FDA rule on calorie disclosure in vending during the National Automatic Merchandising Association's OneShow next week. It's set for Wednesday, April 27, at 9 a.m.

The labeling rule is mandated by a provision of last year's healthcare reform legislation. The present draft of the regulation, which has been published in the Federal Register, includes some points that will interest the vending industry, according to NAMA.

On April 1, the agency issued two proposed regulations regarding calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machines. | SEE STORY

For one thing, FDA has agreed that a sign or poster may be an appropriate medium to communicate the required calorie declarations, as long as it's in close proximity to the machine's product display or selection button. "Close proximity" could mean adjacent to the vending machine, but not necessarily attached, as long as the poster is clear and conspicuous when the item -- or its name, selection button or selection number -- is visible, the association noted.

FDA tentatively concurs that "front of package" nutrition information could be a way to provide visible nutrition information, as long as the criteria for color, font and type size are met, and total calories in the article of food are included, NAMA reports.

FDA proposes that the final rule become effective one year from the date of its publication, the association added. Therefore, no calorie disclosure rules are likely to be in effect until the middle of 2012.

The cost to the average operator of complying with the rule now is estimated at $2,400, NAMA said. FDA estimates that average per machine costs are less than $10 annually, considerably less than its original estimate last year.

NAMA's 2011 OneShow is scheduled for April 27 through 29 at McCormick Place here. Information and online registration are available at the show's website, namaoneshow.org.

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