October 8, 2012
Calorie Count Labels Being Posted On Vending Machines
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Soda consumers in Chicago and San Antonio are about to become more aware of how many calories are jammed into those sugary beverages after their vending machines get a calorie count makeover.
The major cities' municipal buildings will be among the first in the nation to get calorie count displays on their vending machines due to a new program backed by major beverage manufacturers.
The vending machines will be sporting new labels on selection buttons that show how many calories are in each drink.
The American Beverage Association said the Calories Count Vending Program includes adding signage reminding consumers to think about calories, while also increasing the availability of lower-calorie selections.
"Everyone who works in or visits a municipal building in Chicago and San Antonio will know exactly how many calories are in their favorite beverages before making a vending machine purchase," Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association, said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.
The group said the new program complements initiatives like putting new calorie labels on beverage packaging and removing full-calorie soft drinks from schools.
“This appears to be an attempt by the industry to start an initiative – not just to make diet and low-calorie products available – but also to try and motivate consumers to buy and consume more diet and low-calorie products, i.e., to shift consumer behavior,” John Sicher, Beverage Digest´s editor and publisher wrote on Monday.
The vending machines will start showing up in San Antonio and Chicago municipal buildings in 2013, and will later be implemented on a nation-wide scale.
The American Beverage Association said the machines will also increase the availability of lower-calorie and zero-calorie drinks.
"We have market research that says consumers really like this – they like choice, they like the ability to make choices," Neely said in the statement.
The move comes as soda manufacturers face pressure from being blamed as a culprit behind America's growing obesity rate. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed an initiative in the giant city to ban the sale of gigantic sugary drinks from places like movie theaters and sporting events.
The city approved the ban to prohibit the sale of drinks over 16 ounces, while the beverage industry fought to preserve their right to load down giant-sized cups with soft drinks.
A study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month that showed how sugary drinks interact with genes that affect weight, making them particularly harmful for people who are hereditarily prone to being overweight.
The recent vending machine move comes ahead of new regulations that would require restaurant chains and vending machines to post calorie information as early as next year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed an amendment that would allow vending machines to have information posted on the side, but the beverage companies have shown their support of the original regulations.
The large beverage manufacturers came together in a 30-second video showing just how supportive they are of the idea. In the video by the American Beverage Association, it shows how companies have created lower-calorie drinks, and drinks in smaller portions for its consumers.