FDA to extend compliance date for vending machine labeling requirements.

  • In December 2014, FDA published a final rule to require calorie declarations for foods sold in vending machines.  Under the rule, calorie declarations must be clear, conspicuous, and prominently placed so that a prospective purchaser may easily read such information prior to making a purchase.  Although front-of-pack (FOP) calorie declarations may meet the rule’s requirements, the declaration:  (1) must represent the total number of calories in the package as sold in the vending machine (e.g., “per serving” declarations alone are insufficient); and (2) must appear in a type size 50 percent of the largest printed matter on the label.  Although many foods already bore FOP label statements prior to the rule’s issuance, the new rule posed technical challenges for many products.  FDA initially stated that the compliance date for the vending machine requirements was December 1, 2016.
  • On July 8, 2016, FDA announced its intent to extend the compliance date for certain vending machine calorie disclosures.  Specifically, the new compliance date will be July 28, 2018 — i.e., the same as the compliance date for the new nutrition labeling requirements — for:  (1) foods sold from glass-front vending machines that have visible FOP labeling; and (2) certain gums, mints, and roll candy sold in vending machines.  The compliance date will remain December 1, 2016 for:  (1) packaged food sold in glass-front vending machines that does not have visible FOP labeling; (2) vending machines that use electronic displays; and (3) vending machines that sell unpackaged products.  In such cases, the calorie disclosures will have to appear in, on, or adjacent to the vending machine consistent with the requirements of the final rule.
  • FDA is granting the extension in response to requests from industry trade associations.  The Agency has stated that it recognizes the industry’s concerns about technical challenges associated with the FOP disclosure type size requirements and plans to issue a proposed rule for comment on this issue.  With respect to certain gums, mints, and roll candy, FDA has acknowledged the industry’s requests for flexibility but has not yet indicated potential alternative labeling approaches for these products.  The extension should be formally announced in the Federal Register in the near future.