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FDA: Obamacare’s Calorie-Count Mandate Now In Effect—But Not Enforcable

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Chris Neefus
CNS News
Saturday, August 28, 2010

(CNSNews.com) – A mandate buried in the health-care bill President Barack Obama signed in March is now confounding not only the vending-machine operators who are supposed to follow it but also the federal regulators who are supposed to enforce it.

The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that the provisions in Obamacare that mandate that restaurant owners and vending-machine operators disclose the calorie contents of the foods they sell retroactively took effect on the day Obama signed the bill.

The FDA, however, has not been able to give vending-machine operators complete and final guidance on how they should make their machines comply with the law, thus causing “confusion” and “frustration” in the industry, and leading the agency to refrain for now from enforcing the provision.

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Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) says companies with 20 or more restaurants or vending machines must disclose nutrition content for standard menu items, and that for vending machines in particular, the company “shall provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.”

The FDA has ruled that this section of the law went into effect on March 23, 2010, when President Obama signed it, and has laid out detailed instructions for how chain restaurants should display the calorie counts of each menu item, along with definitions of each term involved in the regulation. The FDA has not managed to give similarly detailed guidance to vending machine operators. In fact, the FDA guidance produced on the question thus far has only reiterated the law’s mandate that companies that operate 20 or more vending machines must “immediately disclose, in a clear and conspicuous manner,” the number of calories contained in each snack item or drink.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Neal Monroe, vice president of government affairs at the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) which represents vending machine operators, says he was told by the FDA that they were “still trying to get their arms around” how to implement the provisions of the law.  The resulting confusion is a problem for people in his industry.

Full story here.

This article was posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 3:46 am





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