NYC To Grade Fresh Food Vending Machines As Restaurants, Farmer's Fridge Shuts Down To Comply

Posted On: 12/3/2019

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NEW YORK CITY -- The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has determined that vending machines that dispense fresh salads should be treated as restaurants.

As a result, Chicago-based Farmer's Fridge voluntarily shut down 55 vending machines that sell jars of fresh salads and other foods that it operates in Big Apple hospitals and corporate buildings, according to The New York Times.

The Health Department's concern is that salad greens and other fresh ingredients pose high risks of food-borne illness and Farmer's Fridge is reportedly cooperating with health officials and will have each of its machines inspected.

Meanwhile Farmer's Fridge has operated in Chicago since 2013 with controls in place to remotely monitor the temperature inside of the vending machines and by using software to ensure that no food that reaches an unsafe temperature or its sell-by date can be dispensed.

The inspections will cost Farmer's the same $280 fee as they do at restaurants and after the inspections, each machine will receive a letter grade.

Article 81 of the city's health code state that vending machines do not require individual permits or inspections, but it was written based on long shelf-life packaged soda, candy and chips before modern-day advances in robotic retailing and consumers' growing adoration for it has opened the doors for limitless applications.

"Companies like Farmer's Fridge signal new changes to the NYC food space and we're working to create the best enforcement structure to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers," the department said in a statement.

Farmer's Fridge began in New York and New Jersey in July and also has machines in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.

According to The New York Times, Farmer's Fridge hopes to reopen its machines starting this week, and to continue its rollout in New York and New Jersey.

Click here to read The New York Times article.