The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has determined that vending machines that dispense fresh salads should be treated as miniature restaurants. This has led to the shutting down of 55 vending machines in New York operated by Farmer’s Fridge, a Chicago-based food startup. These vending machines are located in locations such as hospitals and lobbies to provide fresh food options in places where there aren’t many other options available.
The Health Department emphasizes that salad greens and prepared food have high risks of food-borne illness. Farmer’s Fridge, though already taking care readings of the temperatures inside of the vending machines, and using software to ensure that no expired good are dispensed, is cooperating with the regulation efforts and will have each of their machines inspected. The inspections come with the same price as they do at restaurants, at $280 per inspection, though some inspection standards, such as the requirement for a bathroom, will be suspended. After the inspections, each machine will receive a letter grade. The Health Department stated: “We 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.”