Touch Screens Count Calories in Vending Machine Snacks

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Making an informed food choice is possible even when you’re selecting from a vending machine.

While you can’t hold the product in your hand before you buy it, new technology puts the nutritional information literally at your fingertips.

Make Informed Nutritional Decisions vending machine touchscreen (Photo Credit: Fox 8 News)
Make Informed Nutritional Decisions vending machine touchscreen (Photo Credit: Fox 8 News)

It’s called the “MIND” video display touch screen data system. MIND stands for Make Informed Nutritional Decisions.

Stephanie Begley of Vendors Exchange International in Cleveland said the MIND touch screens are placed right on the vending machine. Since you can’t reach in and look at the label, this shows the nutritional information with a touch of the screen.

Begley explained how it works with an example of buying a bag of Cheetos.

“I would walk up to the machine. I would touch the screen, and I would search under chips, because Cheetos are a chip. And, I would find the bag of Cheetos, and I would press it and see the nutritional information on the back of the product,” she said.

Part of the Health Care Reform Act involves making caloric information available to the consumer, and that includes food in vending machines.

“It hasn’t been implemented how that has to take place. So, our solution is a touch screen that has the calorie counts,” Begley said.

Sherry Hillier uses the MIND touch screen at the vending machines where she works at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.

“You want to know your caloric information and your carbohydrate load. And I think this user friendly, it’s innovative, it’s fun,” Hillier said.

The screen can also display gluten-free or peanut-free products that can be important information for people with food allergies.

Vendors Exchange International says there about 5,000 of these “MIND” video display touch screen systems already in use.

The technology is available with on a 7-inch screen or on 46-inch screen. The standard 7-inch system costs $325. Only one is needed for a bank of vending machines and is able to be programmed to display the nutritional information for hundreds of products.

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