The Fight For Reasonable Calorie Disclosure Rules Ignites Grass Roots Response

Sept. 23, 2010
Many vending operators, association officers and manufacturers who took time to urge the FDA to be reasonable in its calorie disclosure requirements. The battle is far from over.
The period for submitting comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the calorie disclosure mandate recently ended. The comments can be viewed at You must enter the docket number No. FDA-2010-N-0298 to view the comments.There are nearly 400 entries pertaining to calorie disclosure in restaurants and vending machines.Congratulations to the many vending operators, association officers and manufacturers who took time to urge the FDA to be reasonable in its requirements. The FDA sought public comments to understand what people want and how they will be affected.A review of the comments indicates there are plenty of groups and individuals who want more burdensome regulations and do not care how difficult or costly the rules are to enforce, let alone meet.The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network wants highly detailed disclosure, such as requiring that each flavor or variety of an item be listed as a separate menu item with separate calorie information, clearly displayed next to the name of each flavor or variety.Some organizations gave more reasonable input.The National Association of County and Health Officials went into a lot of detail on the need for the government to communicate implementation responsibilities, enforcement and education.The vending industry was well represented, both in the quality and quantity of its content. Its encouraging to see many people in our industry take the time and trouble to give thoughtful input.The submission from the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) focuses on the need for flexibility in the regulations, as well as the need for legal protection for minor mistakes. NAMA recommends the FDA not define the specific method for how calorie counts are displayed. To view NAMAs comments, go to: FDAs next step to release preliminary rules, followed by another round of public comments.I dont envy the FDAs task of trying to digest all of this input.Calorie disclosure is a serious matter. Our industry thankfully has a capable association looking out for its interests, as well as many individual member companies who understand the importance of regulatory issues. Every industry member should be supporting these efforts in some way.