July 11, 2018
“Americans consume about one-third of their calories away from home. We know having easy-to-read labels that prominently showcase calorie counts on vending machine products and restaurant menus can empower consumers to make more informed choices about their diets,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “But we also recognize that our regulations need to be pragmatic for manufacturers to implement. So we’re proposing to revise the type-size requirement for front-of-package labeling that displays calorie counts in glass-front vending machines. The proposed change would provide industry with more flexibility to implement calorie labeling requirements, while still ensuring consumers can read the information to better inform their purchase choices.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today published a proposed rule to revise the front-of-package labeling requirements first issued in 2014 for packaged foods sold in vending machines. The FDA’s revised proposal suggests that the type size on these packages be at least 150 percent (1.5 times) the size of the net weight declaration on the front of the package. The proposed change would apply only to glass-front vending machines owned by operators with 20 or more vending machines or those who voluntarily register with the FDA. This proposal would make the type size of calorie counts more consistent on food packages, and therefore more practical to implement, while still ensuring that this important information is readable by consumers considering options in vending machines.
The final rule on calorie labeling for vending machines, issued in 2014, required calories to be displayed in a type size that was at least 50 percent of the size of the largest printed matter on the label. Several industry representatives, however, raised concerns that the requirement posed significant technical challenges, making label redesign difficult and not practical. The FDA decided to extend the compliance date for this component of the final rule from December 2016 to July 26, 2018 while considering alternative options for displaying calorie counts on the front of food labels in vending machines.
In response to requests from the vending and packaged foods industries, the new proposed rule is designed to reduce the regulatory burden and increase the flexibility of the final regulations, while continuing to provide calorie declarations for food items sold from vending machines.
With the proposed rule, the FDA intends to allow manufacturers of products sold in glass vending machines additional time to come into compliance. The FDA is proposing a compliance date of January 1, 2020 for any final rule that results from this proposed rulemaking. Stakeholders and the public can provide comments on this proposal. These comments will inform the FDA’s thinking on the final rule.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.