New York City Increases Oversight of Fresh Food Vending Machines
- by Maggie Mead
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - As our industry continues to grow, produce pioneers have emerged to pave the way towards new avenues of profit, pushing the boundaries of promoting fresh foods. On-the-go and convenience-centric products are trending hard right now, and their popularity is expected to grow as the needs of consumers change over time. Farmer’s Fridge has sparked new progress in the produce industry, taking a sales format notorious for unhealthy eating, and turning it on its head to deliver fresh, flavorful meals. Vending machines are new territory for the industry, and like all new innovations, there are some growing pains involved, but with collaboration between food companies and regulators, this new direction can take flight.
“I think we’re doing a lot to keep people safe and to be recognized for that would be great,” said Luke Saunders, Founder of Farmer's Fridge.
The New York City Health Department is reportedly taking a closer look at prepared fresh food vending machines, particularly Farmer’s Fridge machines, according to The New York Post. Adding a fresh element to the unique vending machine format can result in challenges that need to be addressed by the industry.
“Selling certain prepared foods from a vending machine can create a risk of food-borne illness, and the New York City Health Code sets out food safety requirements for food vending machines,” a Health Department spokesperson told the news source.
New York City officials took note of Farmer’s Fridge machines and contacted Saunders in October to work together to set regulations for the machines. According to The Post, Farmer’s Fridge voluntarily shut down nearly 60 machines across the city in an effort to establish the best quality and safety standards possible for the new format. The company has already built in several safety mechanisms in its machines, including blocking sales of expired items, a device that measures the fridge’s temperature every five minutes, and a setting that automatically shuts down the machine if it gets too hot.
“The Health Department worked with Farmer’s Fridge to be sure their equipment would hold food at safe temperatures, and that foods were properly labeled and from approved sources,” the spokesperson relayed to the news source.
The scope of the new regulations have yet to be determined, but so far, the Health Department has set requirements that ingredients must derive from approved sources, packaged products need labels, and cold foods must be stored at 41 degrees. Farmer’s Fridge has welcomed the regulations as important safeguards, and has submitted the same food service application and $280 fee required by restaurants.
What will the final regulations look like in New York City, and will similar regulations emerge in other cities? AndNowUKnow will keep you posted.