WASHINGTON -- Just like their full-line counterparts, bulk vending operators who have 20 or more machines on location are required to comply with the Food and Drug Administration's calorie-disclosure rule that goes into effect on Dec. 1. Since calorie information for bulk's loose candies and chewing gums cannot be examined before they are purchased, operators will need to post it on or near their machines. Some bulk suppliers are already including that information on their display cards, but it's ultimately the responsibility of the vending operator, according to the FDA and industry sources.
For full-line vending, glassfront machines that stock packaged snacks and drinks, in which calorie information is visible on the front of package (FOP), the FDA disclosure deadline has been extended to July 26, 2018. Suppliers, trade associations and FDA officials are conferring on the best FOP format, making calorie and other nutritional information easily readable to consumers.
Because bulk vending food products are held in glass globes, some industry members misinterpreted the FOP extension as applying to bulk machines. This is not the case, since bulk product is not vended in packages with visible FOP labels.
In July, Felicia Billingslea of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition reminded the vending industry that the calorie regulation takes effect on Dec. 1 for all other food and drink products sold through vending machines. Billingslea said bulk vending machines are covered in the FDA's final rule. However, machines that dispense food as part of a game or other nonfood-related activity are not covered in the final rule; this condition likely applies to candy cranes and similar amusement devices that dispense treats as prizes. Again, an operation with fewer than 20 machines covered by rule need not comply; but the FDA official encouraged them to voluntarily post signage.
The FDA's final rule for vending machine labeling, which covers the ways in which calorie-content information should be presented to consumers, was published on Dec. 1, 2014. The calorie-labeling requirement, which also applies to restaurant menus, is part of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010. The law assigned the FDA the task of writing the appropriate rules.
PHOTO: Calorie information is clearly posted (top r.) on a new gumball display card from A&A Global Industries, a bulk confection supplier.