Health Care Bill Brings A Host Of Uncertainties; Vending Operators Have Time To Meet Calorie Posting Rule

March 24, 2010

The ramifications of the new health care bill on the refreshment services industry probably wont be clear for a few years. In the meantime, vending operators should brace themselves for the need to post calorie information at the point of sale.

At this writing, we are not sure how calorie information will have to be displayed. The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) is attentively following the rule making process.

Health Insurance Costs To Rise

The new health care bill will affect refreshment service operators in two major ways:

It will further increase operators health insurance costs. This is what happened in Massachusetts, the only state to require everyone to have health insurance and provide free coverage for the poor.It will drive up health insurance costs for our customers and cause them to reduce payrolls.

Now that thats out of the way, lets talk about calorie posting.

Calorie Posting Mandate

The bill includes calorie posting rules for vending machines along with menu labeling for restaurants. The federal government hasnt determined specific regulations, such as print fonts and the sizes to be used in calorie displays.

These regulations probably wont be finalized for a few years.

A Consistent Set Of Rules Is A Good Thing

One positive aspect of the labeling requirement is that it will halt the growing patchwork of state and local regulations and replace it with a consistent national standard. This will be easier on consumers and product manufacturers alike.

In the meantime, vending technology providers are introducing products that will enable operators to provide nutrition information at the point of sale.

Ned Monroe, NAMAs senior vice president of government affairs, has stated that digital displays on machines that allow a consumer to view nutrition information will exempt the operator from calorie posting requirements. Hence, the new video screens will be a way to address the requirement.

At last years national NAMA expo, Kraft Vending & OCS and Crane Co. displayed the diji touch machine that provides nutrition data in addition to other information.

Vendors Exchange International Inc. showed a retrofit screen that can update nutrition data with a standard SD card.

Since then, other products have been developed. More will be shown at next months OneShow in Chicago.

Operators who have been on the fence about technology have a new reason to get up to speed about these new and exciting products.

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