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New health regulations require calorie displays on vending machines

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Vending machines will have to display more information about the foods within, according to a USA Today article published on December 29, 2013.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now require calorie labeling on foods sold in vending machines. The mandatory labeling is part of the health overhaul passed by the Obama Administration and it will affect about 5 million vending machines nationwide.

Proponents of the new law hope it will discourage consumers from choosing high- calorie snacks and perhaps put a small dent in the obesity epidemic. According to official studies, the new law will cost vending machine companies about $25.8 million initially and $24 million each year after that, but studies show that the cost will be offset by healthcare savings. If just .02 percent cut calories by 100 per week, it would save the health care system $24 million per year. Any additional reduction in calories would save even more money in health care costs.

Regardless of how few participants it takes, critics still contend that the new regulations will have little, if any, success.

“How many people have not read the label on a candy bar”, said Carol Brennan, owner of Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry. “If you’re concerned about it, you’ve already read it for years.”

Knowing the calorie counts of foods can be useful to concerned parents, many of whom worry about food choices their children make and the generally unhealthful foods sold in vending machines. Requiring the display of calories could discourage some kids from choosing a vending machine snack or, at the very least, could convince some to select a less caloric option.

Vending machine companies will have one year to comply with the new rules.

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