Industries Back Chicago’s Plan for Healthier Vending Options
The Windy City is the latest to crack down on calorie consumption, and industry groups are backing the mayor’s initiative.
Taking a page from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s playbook, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is going after high calorie counts in his city.
Last week, Emanuel revealed his plan to crack down on the city’s snack foods, proposing an ordinance that lays out guidelines for fat, sugar, and calorie content in snacks and beverages sold in vending machines. The action resembles Bloomberg’s move to ban large soft drinks in New York City.
Unlike Bloomberg, who faced backlash from multiple associations, Emanuel is gaining support from industry groups.
“We applaud Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago in promoting informed choices in the area of health and wellness,” Carla Balakgie, president and CEO of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, said in a statement. “The vending industry welcomes the opportunity to work together with the mayor’s office, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and Chicago public schools to advance our mutual agendas.”
The American Beverage Association has already introduced a new initiative, launched recently in Chicago and San Antonio, to display the calorie counts of drinks available for purchase in vending machines.
Emanuel’s plan goes a step further, requiring that no more than 25 percent of a vending machine’s cold beverages, and no hot drinks, be high calorie (more than 25 calories per eight-ounce serving), and that all vended drinks be limited to 12 ounces. Also, healthier options would have to be priced competitively with their high-calorie counterparts.
“These new vending machines will make it easier than ever before for city employees and the public to make healthy lifestyle decisions,” Emanuel said. “When city employees take their wellness into their own hands, we can reduce health care costs and also serve as a model for the residents of Chicago when it comes to making healthy choices.”