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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leave Our Vending Machines Alone

A good example of how far off course Democrats in Congress have strayed on the issue of health care reform, are provisions in the Senate HELP Committee draft bill creating rules and regulations governing food disclosures at fast food restaurants and in vending machines.

Titled the Affordable Health Choices Act, the Senate draft bill amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require food nutritional disclosures at fast food restaurants, similar to the disclosures currently required on packaged food. Under section 325 of the Senate bill (starting at p. 399), any fast food chain with 20 locations and a standardized menu would have to display "in a clear and conspicuous manner" nutrition and calorie information. The information must be "adjacent" to each menu item, and the menu must contain
a succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake, as specified by the Secretary by regulation and posted prominently on the menu and designed to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the caloric information that is provided on the menu...
But what about drive through windows? The information must be displayed on the drive through menu board. Salad bars and buffets? The information must be placed next to each item. Happy meals and other combos? Hmmm.... that's a problem, so the government needs to promulgate rules and regulations to figure out what kind of signage is needed:
The Secretary shall establish by regulation standards for determining and disclosing the nutrient content for standard menu items that come in different flavors, varieties, or combinations, but which are listed as a single menu item, such as soft drinks, ice cream, pizza, doughnuts, or children’s combination meals, through means determined by the Secretary, including ranges, averages, or other methods.
But wait, surely the vending machines of the world are safe from signage. Nope, owners of 20 or more vending machines will have to post signage with the nutritional and caloric content of every item in the vending machine:
[T]he vending machine operator 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.
There is nothing wrong with informing consumers of meaningful information, but these provisions demonstrate how far down the food chain (pun intended) the government will go to impose government control. Signage at drive through lanes and vending machines is so ineffectual as to be laughable.

Is it really necessary to have a sign with the Snickers bar nutritional information posted at a vending machine? Does anyone ordering Twinkies for $1.25 think they are getting anything other than a sugar high? Can't government just leave us, and our vending machines, alone for once?

Related Posts:
Throw Out The Democratic Health Care Sponge
Bureaucracy Expansion Act of 2009

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  1. As if this information couldn't be found anywhere else (like the package itself), or that people make vending machine decisions based on nutrition. I'll tell you what would be helpful when I shop at vending machines, two pieces of information: price per weight (for when I am trying to fill up), and price per calorie (when I want the most bang for my buck). In both cases I am trying to maximize the amount I am getting for my money. Right now, I am forced to press my face against the glass, as I try to read the weight or calories on the packaging. In spite of this, the thought of having the government mandate this information never crossed my mind.

    Pretty soon, they are going to be making regulations on how many times we blow our nose.

  2. This is just a step towards the federal government telling us what we can eat and drink. Just as smokers are now heavily taxed because Big Brother is looking out for our health...next up--all of us 'fatsos' will be forced to pay up for anything that Big Brother 'Bama claims is 'junk food' that is too high in fat, cholesterol, salt, etc. The Lightworker has already stated his intention to tax coal producers out of existence. I have no doubt that the Left will continue their assault on our individual freedom of choice by taxing food that they find objectionable as well. "Want that Big Mac, Buddy? Fine. Here's a nice Big Fat federal tax to go with it. All in the name of controlling health care costs, of course."

    It never ends with these people.

    It's not about what's right for us or our nation.

    They simply want CONTROL.

    They want to tell us what news channels to watch. What newspapers to read. What food to eat. What to THINK! (GoodThoughts. Not bad, evil, unAmerican, Nazi, hateful, violent, racist BadThoughts!)

  3. These outrageous regulations are somewhat an insult to human intelligence. As if I can't find the nutritional facts on a bag of chips for myself? I need them plastered right in front of my face? Someone who is health conscious will look at the nutritional facts for themselves. I doubt obese people will see this huge placard of nutritional facts and go, "oh, well never mind those Cheetos!"

    Once again, this is just a Trojan horse for control.

  4. I agree with munchnstuf...its all about control. I smoke and am a few pounds over weight. Before long I'll be spending most of my pay check on sin taxes, i.e., the sin of smoking (so unhealthy) and the sin of eating more that the Great Lord O'Bama dictates I should for an almost old enough to be useless female.

  5. Before he leaves his domicile each day on his way to promulgate rules for each of us to follow as we go about what used to be our private lives Henry Waxman looks in the mirror.

  6. Can I add another perspective here? Recently I had a trip to USA and Canada. I am not able to eat tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, mayonnaise, and the latest on my list - mustard. These items make me puke without too much effort. With tomatoes and cucumbers the actual acid on any other food will cause me to puke. Pickles are a type of cucumber.

    Now on the east coast I could get food that avoided these items. Even on the AMTRAK trains I could get sandwiches that did not have said horrible items.

    On the west coast it was another matter because every meal on the menu had tomato and pickle included.

    Now the thing is that even though I asked to have these items not added, the AMTRAK employees could not comprehend my dilemma. In fact they could not comprehend that someone with celiac disease cannot have even a crumb of croutons on the caesar salad. That to me is a form of food-nazism, when they are not able to deal with the dietary needs of others.

    What is worse, at Springfield Massachusetts, at the railway station waiting room, there was nowhere to buy anything other than what was contained in the vending machine. Imagine, the train is 2 hours behind time and you need to eat and drink something but all you can get is junk food like twinkies? Give me a break about those requirements.... please....

    BTW Canada copes perfectly well with these needs. It seems they have laws in place and they do everything necessary for people with dietary needs.

  7. Maggie, I sympathize with your health concerns. I really do. In fact, just yesterday I met someone who had dietary requirements far worse than yours. But "let me be perfectly clear", these new regulations are simply aimed at telling you the nutritional and caloric contents of foods, NOT whether there are tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles or whatnot in them. And to be perfectly frank, it's not up to the rest of the world to bow to YOUR dietary requirements.

    "...food nazism..."?!

    "Give me a break"!!!

    Here we go again.

    Everybody else in the world has to deal with YOUR needs.

    Enter Big Brother to solve all of Maggie's problems for her....

    (Conservatives are such evil, EVIL, Nazis, I guess... make that uncaring, evil Nazis.)

  8. You know what Maggie, how about you bring your own sandwiches and salads onto the Amtrak train. Or, if you buy a sandwich with pickles, tomatoes, or cucumbers in it, take them out yourself. The burden is yours, not the federal government's.

  9. I'm going to be mean, but...

    What the heck does an employee at Amtrak screwing up yout food order have to do with the government mandating that calories be put up everywhere?

  10. Thanks to all of you with common sense who responded to Maggie. For crying out loud, when we travel with my granddaughter, a person with multiple disabilities, we bring along food we know she can eat. We would never dream of demanding that Amtrak, an airline or even a school lunch program provide such specialized nutrition. Get over yourself, and meet your own needs.

  11. Yea Maggie, keep yourself in New Brunswick or where ever The Authorities have outlawed mustard. Also, AMTRAK is RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT! So the irony of your argument is hilarious.

    You had to wait 2 hours for food you consider eatable? Oh, the humanity.

    If an establishment can not see to your unique needs, go some place else. Plan ahead for when you are in your dietary desert. That is the beauty of choice. And choice is our one true freedom. Choice is something Change is trying to take away.
    We DO NOT NEED Uniform Consumption Control. The control they already have does not stop salmonella from getting in your peanuts’, or from getting the trots from an undercooked burger.
    We have more laws on the books, jails, and prisoners than any nation on Earth. We are already at the limits of what can be termed a Free Country. All the truly heinous acts are already covered by our Legislature….Now they need to invent their next conquest to fill their coffers. It’s the Calorie Crusade!

  12. We are well on the road to becoming Absurdistan.

    Quoted from and linked to at:

  13. @Jose,

    let me explain this dilemma. In my case I cannot even have the said items near any other food. That means that once those items have been near the rest of the food, nothing can be consumed.

    It is not a matter of dislike, it is a matter of a reaction that will not kill me, but a reaction that is upsetting.

    Bring my own sandwiches? Silly statement when people are travelling and have no access to all the necessary items.

    Both you and another commenter just do not get what I was driving at about food nazism. As I said it was a case of the AMTRAK employees on the West Coast could not comprehend the inherent dangers of people consuming food that give them an extremely nasty reaction. The friend who has the celiac disease is in a much worse condition.

    What you have not comprehended though, is that if the said items are included in sandwiches or other food, I cannot eat anything on the plate!!!!

    My point however, was not about my dietary needs per se but the fact that in Canada it seems that they have laws that work to protect the individual with the dietary needs as well as the Canadian business. In Canada the restaurant staff bent over backwards to accommodate these dietary restrictions.

    This is more a matter of education than anything else. I could have said that they were just plain lazy, which was probably true, but just like you, they just could not comprehend the actual nature of the problem.

    I guess you do not mind having people vomiting all over the place?

  14. @DeckerDallas,

    I have not been to New Brunswick what a silly statement.

    I bet from your response that you are on the West Coast of USA.

    Again your statements, like a few others are totally absurd in my particular situation. I was a visitor from another overseas country. Plan ahead? Really?

    On the east coast of the USA, I had no difficulty at all. The problem on the West Coast is that people do not comprehend that there are others who have allergies and the like.

    Perhaps a better illustration is to explain the dangers of having an allergy to nuts, lemongrass and a range of other foods, none of which personally affect me. For some even a speck of the food becomes a killer. This has happened in real life. A child died because of being forced to have something that included peanut butter.

    My comment is about the need for people to be educated about those dietary needs of others.

    When I was in Canada I was amazed at the attention that I was given as soon as it was made clear that there was the possibility of an allergic reaction. The Canadians went out of their way to be of assistance.

    Since I would not normally eat mustard I was shocked that I had a reaction at all. However, it seems that one can have a certain problem associated with the alimentary canal that causes the reaction.

    Your reaction is in no way a response to what happened or even what appears to be Canadian laws covering the situation involving people who can get ill as a result of consuming certain food. I suspect that it is some kind of health and safety law due to the fact that the restaurants etc do not want to get sued.

    As is stands, it remains food nazism when one cannot get the necessary variety so that one can avoid the items where there is a reaction. This was the problem on the West Coast.

    It would have been nice to have that CHOICE rather than being left in a situation of having an extremely limited choice due to the ingredients of the dishes offered.

  15. and just a final comment on the subject, one reason that I like to purchase items in MacDonalds rather than some of these other places is that I can get a special order requesting my burger (rarely purchased) or whatever else to be without the pickles or the mayonnaise etc.

    In other words, at MacDonalds the staff can cope with a request to have food served without mayonnaise and the other stuff that I cannot eat but AMTRAK west coast could not manage to separate a burger and fries from the salads that went with the dish.

    The juice of tomato, cucumber and pickle, once it touches the other food makes the other food non-consumable.

    Overall whilst travelling for a month in both the USA and Canada I managed very well, the downer was the attitude of the AMTRAK staff, because they are not educated in the area of the dietary needs of others.

  16. @Kate,

    that is only possible to achieve if you live in the USA. When you are a visitor it is not possible.

    It seems most of you have no idea the demands of travel like that, when you do not have the capability to be able to take your own food.

    My whole point in the first place was the fact that the worst situation was at Springfield Massachusetts where nothing was available except the twinkies etc in the vending machine.

    Try travelling in another country where you are limited with your luggage. It is a whole different ball game to travelling when you have control over being able to take your own food etc.

    As I pointed out, with AMTRAK east coast there was no problem because the sandwiches were not packaged with the tomato etc.

    I have the same problem elsewhere, in fact anywhere that the sandwiches are not made fresh on the premises, where I can request my own ingredients. It means that a very limited amount of food is available because of the situation.......

    You called those replies sensible? I thought they were totally stupid and totally myopic just like your response because you have not comprehended the difficulties of that situation where we had one suitcase each, the inability to purchase our own bread, margarine etc. We were travellers and visitors to both the USA and Canada. We could not take our own sandwiches etc.

    Even in New York we got good menu advice about what dishes did not contain the food that was a problem. The difference is that AMTRAK did not supply any suitable alternative.

    The fact is I managed to avoid the items but it meant not eating any salad at all. It was not possible once the food is tainted. Ditto for the person with celiac disease. The caesar salad could not be eaten because it was tainted by the croutons.

  17. I have celiac disease and had an excellent experience on Amtrack recently. They made me a delicious burger without the bun (and no cross contamination! WTG!). Breakfast was good too. Dinner was iffy but I came prepared with meal replacement bars. I'm not sure how Nazis got into this? If you talk to the person in charge of food prep on the line you're on, things seem to go pretty well. Tipping helps too :)