Montgomery Co. Bill Aims for Healthy Vending Machines

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Council is considering a proposal to require that vending machines on county property be stocked with a certain percentage of food and drinks that meet healthy guidelines.

Under the proposed legislation, at least 50 percent of vending machine items on county property would need to meet the following criteria:

  • Less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving
  • No more than 200 milligrams of sodium per package
  • For beverages, fewer than 40 calories per serving
  • Also for beverages, no more than 250 calories or 20 fluid ounces

Baltimore and D.C. have similar laws.

The Maryland Beverage Association is not fighting the measure. Ellen Valentino, the association’s executive vice president, said her group is fairly neutral on the matter but does want to raise issues for lawmakers to consider as the legislation moves forward.

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The Montgomery County Council’s proposal would require all vending machines on county property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. (Courtesy American Heart Association)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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How would your office vending machine fare under the proposed new rules? (WTOP\/Kristi King)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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As packaged, Nutter Butter peanut butter bites contain 140 calories and would be acceptable as a healthier option for Montgomery County vending machines. (WTOP\/Kristi King)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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These are examples of items that would be allowable as healthier options for vending machines on Montgomery County property. (WTOP\/Kristi King)\n"},{"type":"ad","media":"

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At a news conference Tuesday proposing new vending machine rules for snacks sold on Montgomery County property, Lindsey Parsons of Real Food For Kids \u2014 Montgomery said the issue is also being examined by the county schools’ wellness committee. (WTOP\/Kristi King)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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The Montgomery County Council’s proposal would require all vending machines on county property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. (Courtesy American Heart Association)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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The Montgomery County Council’s proposal would require all vending machines on county property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. (Courtesy American Heart Association)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

The Montgomery County Council’s proposal would require all vending machines on county property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. (Courtesy American Heart Association)\n"},{"type":"ad","media":"

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A worker in the Montgomery County Council Office Building in Rockville chooses to take the elevator despite a sign suggesting otherwise. “One of my favorite Spanish words is the word ‘bienestar,'” Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal said at a news conference proposing new vending machine rules. “‘Bienestar’ \u2014 ‘well-being,’ and that is what we seek for Montgomery County.” (WTOP\/Kristi King)\n"}], previews: [{"index":0,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/Infographic-vending-MoCo-260x174.jpg"},{"index":1,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/YOUR-OFFICE-260x174.jpg"},{"index":2,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/LOW-CAL-260x174.jpg"},{"index":3,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/OKAY-SNACKS-260x174.jpg"},{"index":5,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/SKLS-NXT-260x174.jpg"},{"index":6,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/AHA_MD_HealthyVending-and-you_Feb-2017-2-260x174.jpg"},{"index":7,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/AHA_MD_Sodium-and-you_Feb-2017-2-260x174.jpg"},{"index":8,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/AHA_MD_Sugary-Drinks-and-you_Feb-2017-2-260x174.jpg"},{"index":10,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/02\/TAKE-STAIRS-260x174.jpg"}], prev: "\t", next: "\t" };

“It does ban certain products from the sale,” Valentino said. “But we make it all. If [people] want to buy it, we have it available.”

Valentino did express concern with a bill provision that healthier options such as milk be priced less or the same as items not meeting nutritional standards, such as Mountain Dew.

That, she suggested, would cause vendors to raise prices of some items.

Bill supporters disagreed.

“The intent is that they be comparably priced,” said Shawn McIntosh, executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland. “Because one of the arguments used to be that the healthy stuff was going to be too expensive.”

The bill’s sponsor, Council member George Leventhal, said specific criteria for items allowable to fulfill percentage quotas will be established as the legislation is created.

At a public hearing on the matter Tuesday, speakers advocating for government intervention to ensure healthier choices detailed a litany of statistics about obesity and chronic disease, figures that they believe the measure could help counter.

“Twenty-five percent of adolescents now have either Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes,” McIntosh said. “Twenty-five percent of adolescents,” she exclaimed. “That’s a crime.”

The “Healthy Vending Standards” proposal is endorsed by a majority of county council members and would formalize a practice already in place through county contracts with vendors.

If the measure is passed this summer, it would initially require that by July 1, 50 percent of a vending machine’s options meet specific nutritional standards. By July 2018, that would change to 65 percent.

The post Montgomery Co. bill aims for healthy vending machines appeared first on WTOP.

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