Vending Operators Have Until July 5 To Comment On Calorie Disclosure; Don’t Waste Your Opportunity

The comment period for the proposed calorie disclosure rules is less than a month away, and vending operators should realize the federal government wants to hear from them. The rules could bring a major cost for vending operators, depending on what the final requirements are.The Food and Drug Administration (FD)is taking comments from the public through July 5, 2011. The agency will then publish final rules, and enforcement is scheduled to begin one year later.During the government affairs symposium at therecent National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Expo in Chicago, FDA official Felicia Billingslea implored vending operators to comment on the proposed calorie disclosure rules. She said the agency wants the rules to be as flexible as possible, and the agency is looking to the vending industry for suggestions.To date, many vending operators have submitted comments, which can be viewed on the agencys Website, http://www.regulations.gov/#%21submitComment;D=FDA-2011-F-0171-0001.In reviewing the comments, only a minority of those submitted specifically suggest how calorie disclosure can be provided in a way that is feasible for vending operators.Many vending operators simply blast the idea of calorie disclosure. Some say the rules will put them out of business.Comments like these may be well intended, but they wont result in rules the industry can live with.At this point, more vending operators need to offer ideas on how the agency can meet itsgoals in ways that are economically feasible.NAMA has suggested a poster in close proximity to the covered vending machine food or selection button. NAMA also supports allowing electronic and "front of package" nutrition information.One vending operator suggested having a Website where consumers can be directed to view calorie information. Another operator suggested a tax credit in exchange for the cost associated with compliance.Vending operators should be advised that many people from outside the industry are submitting comments, and many of them are not concerned about the vending industrys well being. Some people genuinely think strict government regulations will solve obesity. Such comments have been submitted from state government officials, health care professionals, advocacy groups and private citizens.Vending operators have an opportunity to make their voices heard on this rule.The most beneficial comments will be those that recognize the FDA is going to regulate calorie disclosure. Comments should suggest how this can be accomplished in a cost efficient manner.

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