New FDA Act Doesn't Change Vending Commissary Registration Requirements

The new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) enacted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received a lot of media attention and raised concerns among vending and micro market operators over language that would potentially require increased registration with the FDA.

Larry Eils, the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Knowledge Source on Health and Safety, told VendingMarketWatch most commissary operators in the vending and micro market segment needn’t worry.

"According to the registration act, we should be exempt, because we (NAMA) feel a commissary is a restaurant operation and not a central kitchen," said Eils."We're a commissary that makes food for consumption directly by our consumers, our customers."

Eils pointed out that the act requires "facilities engaged in manufacturing, process, packing or holding food for consumption" to submit to registration every other year and possible increased inspections. Vending commissaries don't fall into this category. "We don't sell it [food] to a third party which in turn sells it to someone else," said Eils,

Eils' work with legislators places vending more closely in the restaurant and retail food establishments categories, which are exempt from the registration. Restaurants and retail food establishments are mentioned under the facilities that do not have to register.

Restaurants are defined as facilities that prepare and sell food directly to consumers for immediate consumption. Retail food establishments are defined as grocery stores, delis, roadside stands, etc. that sell food directly to consumers as their primary function, meaning that annual food sales directly to consumers are of greater dollar value than annual sales to other buyers. However, if a commissary is making food for multiple vending companies, not just for consumption by its customers, the commissary would fall under the new FSMA requirements.

Should vending commissary owners find themselves being told they need to register their facility, Eils suggests asking why. "Ask them to show you in writing why your commissary is required to register," he concluded.

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