Obamacare Places New Regulations on Vending Machines
March 3, 2015
Obamacare has given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate vending machines. A new rule requires operators owning twenty or more machines to include calorie counts on or adjacent to the snack dispensers. While the FDA touts the new regulations will lower health care costs by $7.5 million by decreasing obesity, consumer behavior has not been tested.
Meanwhile, past studies have shown that displaying calories in restaurants does not affect individual calorie intake. Candy bars and snacks already include calorie count labels and vending machines make up a small portion of food consumed by the average individual.
Expected annual spending on governmental compliance checks is an estimated $38 million each year over twenty years. By 2036, this program will have cost the government over $400 million. In addition, the cost of owner implementation will be $26 million with an annual cost of $24 million after the first year, partly due to the difficulty of retrofitting vending machines with the labeling.
Congress could save millions of dollars each year by paying closer attention to consumer decision-making habits. Moreover, Congress should, at very least, force the FDA to test its effectiveness before funding an experimental proof of concept.
Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "Obamacare's Vending Machine Power Grab," Economics 21, February 25, 2015.
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