14 Million Hours Required Annually for Vending Industry to Comply With Calorie Disclosure RegulationsCHICAGO  (Food-News.net)  A notice published by the Food and Drug Administration in the November 5 Federal Register estimates that the nation’s vending industry will need to spend 14 million hours annually to comply with proposed calorie disclosure regulations, National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Sr. VP Government Affairs Ned Monroe, CAE announced today.  

In discussing the FDA report Monroe said, “Our industry has always understood that consumers need access to product nutritional information, but requiring an industry to invest 14 million hours annually is absurd and sure to kill jobs.  We are opposed to the colossal burden these regulations impose on our industry and this report just confirms what an enormous and unfair burden it truly is.”

The calorie disclosure legislation was included as part of the federal Health Care reform legislation that was passed last March.  The legislation requires that vending companies which operate 20 or more vending machines where caloric information is not available prior to purchase must “provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article”.

The FDA notice in the Federal Register said:

“The total recurring hours needed for third party display is then 14 million hours (= 5000 firms × 1,400 machines/firm x 20 displays/machine × .05 hours/display….” 

“…FDA estimates a total of 14,068,808 recurring hours, with nearly all of these for vending machine operators, including 31,408 recurring hours for recordkeeping and 14,037,400 recurring hours for third party disclosure….”

According to Monroe, the vending industry has always recognized the importance of educating consumers about health and wellness as evidenced by its national health and wellness program Balanced for Life.  Said, Monroe, “Over the past several years the vending industry has helped address skyrocketing obesity rates by investing millions of dollars into its Balanced for Life program to educate consumers about the elements of a healthy diet and the importance of physical activity.  In addition, as part of that work we developed our highly acclaimed “Fit Pick” nutrition rating system which clearly marks in the vending machine better-for-you items that meet strict nutritional guidelines.  Considering that most products purchased out of a vending machine are the same ones that are well known and available in other retail channels everywhere, and not prepared menu items where consumers may be unaware of what the nutritional content is, we question whether this measure is necessary at all.”  

He concluded, “It’s even more troubling that after reviewing the calculations in the report the 14 million hour estimate might not even be enough.  The implementation for this policy is completely wrong.  It’s obvious that the FDA needs to rethink this approach completely.  In this economy where our small business members are struggling to survive, they can’t afford to spend 14 million hours each year to comply with this new regulation.”

To see the FDA Federal Register notice visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-28014.pdf

NAMA is the national trade association of the food and refreshment vending, coffee service and foodservice management industries including on-site, commissary, catering, & mobile. Its membership is comprised of service companies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers of products and services to operating service companies.  The basic mission of the association, to collectively advance and promote the automatic merchandising and coffee service industries, still guides NAMA today as it did in 1936, the year of the organization’s founding.

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