July 11, 2018
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing to revise the front of pack (FOP) type size labeling requirement for packaged foods sold in glass-front vending machines. The proposed change would apply only to calorie declarations on the front of packages that consumers can view through the glass before deciding which foods to purchase. Some industry representatives voiced concerns that the current requirements for type size, established in the FDA's 2014 final rule on calorie labeling for foods sold from vending machines, would make the calorie labeling size fluctuate widely and created technical challenges that could make it difficult to comply with the regulation. The FDA has proposed a requirement that would make the type size more consistent on food packages while still ensuring that consumers can read the information before making their purchase.
After considering several options, the FDA is proposing that the type size of the calorie declaration be at least 150 percent (1.5 times) of the size of the net quantity of contents (i.e., net weight) declaration; the final rule required calorie type size to be at least 50 percent of the size of the largest printed matter on the label. This change would provide industry with greater flexibility while still ensuring that consumers can read the information in the glass-front machine before making their purchase. Many packaged food products with front-of-package calorie labeling that are currently sold in glass-front vending machines already meet the proposed requirement and would not need to be changed under the proposed rule. All other requirements in the 2014 final rule on calorie labeling for vending machines would remain the same. The FDA also evaluated two, alternative approaches for providing visible calorie declaration and is soliciting comments on them. These alternative approaches are: requiring the calorie information to be in a type size that is at least 100 percent of the size of the net quantity of contents declaration; or not specify any size for visible nutrition information.
The FDA's final rule on calorie labeling for vending machines, which was implemented in 2016, requires vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines, or who voluntarily register with the FDA, to provide calorie declarations for certain foods sold from vending machines. The vending machine operator can meet this requirement by providing a sign close to the selection button that discloses the number of calories in the food item.
After considering concerns from industry over FOP labeling requirements proposed in 2014, the FDA extended the compliance date for this component of the final rule to July 26, 2018. All other requirements of the rule had to be met by December 1, 2016 for these vended foods.
Because it is unlikely that any final rulemaking will be complete before the July 26, 2018 compliance date, the FDA intends, pending completion of this rulemaking, to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to this compliance date for products sold in glass-front vending machines that provide a FOP calorie disclosure. The FDA is proposing a compliance date of January 1, 2020 for any final rule resulting from this rulemaking and will exercise enforcement discretion until then in order to provide sufficient time for the packaged food industry to revise their labels consistent with any new requirements, as appropriate. The FDA also intends to exercise enforcement discretion, at least until January 1, 2020, with respect to gums, mints, and roll candy products sold in glass front machines in packages that are too small to bear FOP labeling. The FDA intends to consider this issue further.
Written or electronic comments on the proposed rule are being accepted for 75 days, until September 25, 2018. Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0171 for “Food Labeling: Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food Sold From Certain Vending Machines; Front of Package Type Size.”
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