If you were surprised to see a sign in Starbucks explaining that your vanilla latte contains 250 calories, get ready for some information that might spoil your afternoon snack: in 2014, vending machine operators will also be required to post calorie information.
The new nutrition labeling is actually a part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. According to the FDA, menu labeling is intended to provide consumers with better information about what they eat. The idea is that when people have better information, they will make healthier choices. Over 10,000 companies will have to comply with the new rules, which will affect 5 million machines. The proposed rule states that calorie information would have to be displayed “clearly and prominently,” although not necessarily attached to the machine itself. However, the sign must be able to be seen in the same field of vision as the items in the machine, so that it could be seen at the same time as the name, price, or selection button number.
The rules also apply to chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, which is why calorie information is popping up at more and more restaurants. Bakeries, coffee chains, convenience stores, and grocery stores would all have to provide this information. Under the proposed rules, there are exceptions for movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other businesses where selling food is not their primary business. Convenience stores and grocery stores, which are moving into the prepared food business, are also trying to carve out an exception for themselves under the new rules.
The FDA is currently accepting comments on the proposed rules, and they expect to release final rules sometime in 2014, with an effective date six months to one year after the rules are issued.