LOUISVILLE, Ky., Dec. 23 A group representing some of the nation's most prominent vending companies today called on Congress to drop language that would require vending companies to disclose the caloric content of vended food and beverage products prior to the point of sale, Vend Marketing Institute (VMI) Executive Director Chris Stave announced today. The requirement is included in both the House and Senate versions of the healthcare reform legislation currently being debated in Congress, and would apply to any business which owns or operates 20 or more vending machines.
According to Stave, the organization supports the idea of nutrition disclosure, and, in fact, already has an overwhelmingly successful program in place that is much more comprehensive than the one being considered in Congress. Said Stave, "Four years ago we recognized the importance of working to educate consumers about the nutrition content in the products they were purchasing, which is why we worked with Registered Dietitian Carmen Gorniak, RD, CD, to create The Right Choice...for a Healthier You! Ū nutrition program. It identifies products in the vending machine that meet specific nutrition guidelines that reflect the USDA's Food Pyramid principles of balance and portion control, and is a proven success. It's also much more informative than the proposals being considered on Capitol Hill."
According to VMI, the program has been tremendously successful, and is currently being used at more than 5,000 client locations serviced by members of VMI. TRC guidelines list appropriate levels regarding caloric content, sodium, cholesterol, fat, including saturated and trans fats, as well as sugar. Any item meeting the dietary guidelines established for The Right Choice...for a Healthier You!, qualifies for the program heart/apple symbol which is clearly displayed to ensure consumers can identify qualifying products before they make a purchase.
According to Gorniak, RD, CD, the calorie disclosure requirement being considered by Congress is questionable whether it may be a helpful indicator about a product's nutritional value. Said Gorniak, "While calorie counts are important when it comes to overall health, there are many more factors that come into play when making a vending decision. A product might be low in calories but high in fat, cholesterol or contain trans-fats, all of which have a large impact on a person's health. VMI challenges the proposal Congress is considering, our program truly gives consumers the information they need to make an informed choice when it comes to their own personal health."
Stave said too that not only is the proposal being considered on Capitol Hill ineffective, it would place an enormous financial hardship on the industry as vending operators work to refit machines to comply with the requirement. Said Stave, "The industry estimates that it will cost $56.6 million in the first year alone for us to configure our machines to meet this regulation. It would surely force vending operators to cut jobs, clearly not what we need in today's tough economy."
Concluded Stave, "We agree that consumers should understand the nutritional value of products before they buy them. But it's hard to imagine why anyone would support the overwhelmingly expensive and ineffective program being considered by Congress when a more useful and significantly more economical program has already proven its success in thousands of locations across the country."
VMI was established in 2003, and today the current affiliates of VMI generate about $500 million in annual sales, primarily from 75,000 vending machines located in more than 16,000 business and industry locations.
SOURCE Vend Marketing Institute