New law requires vending machines to display calories

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 12/30/2013 11:46 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDFEF) - The new year will ring in a new health care law that is connected to vending machines.

As part of President Obama's health care law, vending machines will be required to have posted calorie information next to the product. The FDA says posting that information will lead to Americans making healthier eating choices.

WDEF talked to one vendor who says it might be a waste of time and money. Gary Shimel is an independent vendor who sales his snacks out of machines at the rest stop along I-75 near the Tennessee/Georgia border.

"I think it's not going to be as helpful as people think. It depends on people willing to read them or not. Some people will," Shimel said.

The FDA estimates the change will cost the vending machine industry $25.8 million at first and $24 million annually after that. Companies which operate more than 20 machines are affected by the new law.

In some locations like government buildings, vendors are already required to offer healthier foods along with the not-so healthy items.

"They tell you how much healthy foods you must have in the machines and it's hard to find it and it's hard to sell," Shimel said.

WDEF tried talking to vending machine consumers as they approached the machines inside a building at the Interstate rest area. No one would comment because they knew very little or nothing about the new law. Then a Belarusian tourist agreed to give his perspective on the subject.

"American's are all crazy about calories. But we're from the former republic USSR and we don't care about calories because we're not fat," said Mikhail Palstsianu.

Vending companies will be given all of 2014 to comply with the new law.
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