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  • Tales of the Red Tape #5: Calorie Counts Forced Down Our Throats

    You’re too fat, and vending machines are to blame. The government says so and is doing something about it.

    To temper the snack food cravings we are supposedly incapable of controlling, Congress is forcing vendors to post the calorie counts of vending machine items. Thus, we’ll supposedly pick the healthier brand of potato chips, cookies, candy, and soft drinks.

    According to the designated enforcer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the new regulation will add 14 million hours of extra work each year to vending machine operations.

    The FDA openly admits that there’s no demand for such labels: “Consumers may ignore future costs of overeating, relative to the current gains from eating, even when they understand the connection. Therefore, consumers do not generally demand calorie and other nutrition information for food away from home. … Given the costs and the uncertain reception for calorie information that many consumers appear not to care about, most vending machine operators have chosen not to display calorie information.”

    Well, duh!

    The most irritating part about the whole deal? Information about caloric content does not change consumer behavior, researchers report. And yet the FDA has the gall to call the absence of calorie labeling on vending machines a “market failure.”

    Let’s summarize. Consumers don’t want calorie information about vending machine snacks, so vendors haven’t provided it. Consequently, government decides that both consumers and vendors must be forced into it.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #5: Calorie Counts Forced Down Our Throats

    1. India Pincer, oregon says:

      The study you cite describes results from consumer "behavior at one Mexican fast-food chain with locations within and adjacent to King County." Basing your argument on fast food data is a bit disingenuous. I'm a consumer. I know from personal experience (mine and colleagues) that knowledge of calorie content is as important in making choices as knowledge of ingredients. I want the free market to work. That requires information. I am happy to pay for that additional information. Thank you, FDA, for helping to ensuring the general welfare. I can still decide whether I want to eat the burrito or not.

      • CJH says:

        If the FDA is so concerned with our well-being, why then do I see at least 15 ads a day about how the FDA approved some drug or medical procedure and then decided after thousands of people died or had extreme complications, that all of a sudden it isn't good any more. Why are we allowed to sue the companies that make these faulty drugs and devices but not hold the FDA accountable for not doing their job in the first place. And I'm sorry but, you already know that potato chips, candy, and soda aren't good for you. Nobody goes to the vending machine thinking, "I'd really like to know which sugary carb laden snack is best for me?"

    2. Bobbie says:

      Someone please put your foot down! if there is any purpose for government, it's to guarantee it isn't poisonous!? We're under the impression, that is the job of the FDA!

      But with the wild hair of the democrat party, they are overstepping everywhere begging for a purpose. Anything else regarding food consumption, outside of food safety, government is overstepping their authority and stomping on our inalienable right to freedom!

    3. Roger S., Mass. says:

      Another example of our federal "Nanny State" in action. Although I agree with "India Pincer" that it is nice to have nutritional information available (many people do consider it in their purchasing decisions) it is the very point of everything that the most "democratic" and "liberal" entity of all, namely a FREE market, be left to decide the issue, NOT the FDA.

      If you don't like that, don't buy from vending machines, in this particular case. For instance, I rarely do, given a choice; and when I feel I must, then I don't ask too many questions about calories or ingredients: my body is not so fragile as to immediately "drop me dead" should I commit the occasional "mortal nutritional sin"!

      Should vendors discover, by whatever studies of their markets they care to undertake, that calorie-light and artificial ingredient-poor, contents are desired at some price point, then the information is likely to become presented to potential buyers in BOLD. In many instances, e.g. soft drinks, the manufacturers themselves see to that. If not, "India Pincer" will just have to do without the info, or obtain it elsewhere and remember it. He has NO RIGHT to demand that by means of my tax dollars his perceived need for convenient information must be paid for twice: once via a federal agency's cost to mandate and enforce, and again via the vendor's cost markup passed on in the price!

      It is precisely this sort of false argumentation, by "Liberals" like "India Pincer" multiplied Million-fold, that has resulted in our financially over-burdened "Nanny State" whose economy is choking on an overdose of regulation. My advice: Cut calories where it really counts — in the Federal Bureaucracy. They may have a mandate to keep us safe. They do not have one to make life convenient for everybody!

    4. Bobbie says:

      India Pincer, that is an excellent idea! Make the information available and at a price for those that are happy to pay for additional information!!!! Excellent idea! Freedom of choice! I personally wouldn't choose to waste my time at a restaurant to read the ingredients of what I want to consume. But those that want the ingredients should pay for them!!!! Way to keep the economy going and cover the costs of the government mandated ingredient information!

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