City, State Zip
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
Re: [Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0171] RIN 0910-AG56
I am a vending machine operator who owns or operates food and beverage vending machines. I will be specifically impacted by this new federal rule, since I will be required to disclose calories for my products. I appreciate this opportunity to comment on Food Labeling; Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines; Proposed Rule [Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0171] RIN 0910-AG56
- I strongly support the FDA's attempt to allow maximum flexibility in how disclosure can take place, and the Agency's attempt to minimize the economic impact to small businesses. I hope that the FDA will allow a wide variety of disclosure solutions, to allow vending operator options. It is important that due to the very wide variety of machines in existence today, a wide variety of solutions be allowed. Any limiting of potential calorie disclosure solutions, will limit the information that we might be able to provide to customers. If the goal is to provide information to customers prior to purchase, then vending companies must be allowed a variety of labeling solutions to meet the variety of machine configurations.
- The FDA must provide sufficient time to implement any new regulations. I think the FDA should be allowed at least two years after rules are finalized to implement calorie disclosure.
- I strongly agree with the FDA that when the Nutrition Facts Panel of an article of food sold from a vending machine may be seen by a customer before purchasing the food, then I am not required to provide additional calorie information. This is an accurate interpretation of the legislative intent of Congress.
- I believe that any visible display of the Nutritional Facts Panel prior to the point of purchase, exempts the vending operator from compliance with this act. I think that displaying the information on a sign, electronically or in a brochure which is available near the machine, is sufficient disclosure. Since Congress made this distinction, FDA should also. Display of the Nutritional Facts Panel via a brochure will allow flexibility and will also minimize economic costs.
- I agree with the FDA that the act specifically allows an operator to "provide visible nutritional information at the point of purchase". Any operator who provides visible nutritional information at the point of purchase does not have to additionally label products for calorie. Any visible display of nutritional information should be broadly interpreted. Visible nutritional information should include a sign near a bank of vending machines. An informational sign which is readable prior to the point of purchase, would therefore exempt the vending operator from compliance with this act.
- The FDA should acknowledge that "nutritional information" should include the voluntary front of pack labeling programs which have been announced by America's leading food and beverage manufacturers and retailers. For example, both the Clear on Calorie® and Nutrition Keys®, comply with these regulations. Such clear disclosure made by the Clear on Calories® and Nutrition Keys® labeling will provide valuable information to our customers.
- The FDA should allow Front of Pack calorie labeling to be in compliance with this legislation. If allowed, then in glass front vending machines where calorie information is printed on the product and is readable by customers, this could be a quick, efficient and effective compliance method. This is a preferred calorie disclosure solution for many vending operators.
- I agree with the FDA proposals which will allow one sign in close proximity to the vending machine with calorie counts of all foods which are stocked in a bank of vending machines. This flexibility will minimize the economic impact of these regulations. Grouping menu items into categories such as "beverages," "chips"” "candy," or "gum" might help consumers select snacks by comparing similar snack or beverage categories. A bank of machines would include all vending machines which are aligned and touching side-by-side.
- I support allowing a sign which would list all products which could be in a machine. A menu should be allowed to list any food or beverage which may potentially be stocked in the machine. This one menu would become a more permanent sign, and would reduce the need to print a new menu each time a vending machine is serviced.
- I agree with the FDA that a "sign be placed in close proximity to the article" does mean that the sign may be placed either in or on the vending machine itself or adjacent to the vending machine and near the food, its price, its selection number, or its selection button.
- I also agree with the FDA that while the calorie information must be clear and conspicuous to be readable by potential customers, that the FDA should not require a specific type size or font for such signage. With more than 300 designs of vending machines in service, flexibility in type size, font style and colors should be allowed to the operator. It is unnecessary and inappropriate to further define requirements to meet the "clear and conspicuous" requirements of the proposed rules.
- Gum and mint packs should be allowed to display calories per serving, not calories per package, since these products are consumed differently than other foods.
- I recommend that food and beverages have a range for disclosure. For food and beverages below 20 ounces, the calories should be listed per package. For these items we agree with the FDA that "the number of calories declared must be equal to the total number of calories contained in the food item as dispensed." However, for food and beverages with more than 20 ounces, calories should be labeled per serving. For gum and mints, calories should be reported per serving.