The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released proposed guidelines for nutrition labelling of certain food items sold in vending machines, in a bid to help consumers make healthier decisions.

According to the FDA, the final rule on new labelling regulations would be released early this year, under Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Under the proposed guidelines, firms that own or operate 20 or more vending machines will have to display calorie information for food products on a sign, which does can be attached or unattached to the machines, but must be close to the food items.

FDA said that product calorie information must be visible along with descriptive names and prices or selection button numbers.

Once implemented, the regulation will require calorie information to be displayed on five million vending machines across the US.

According to USA Today, nutrition labelling of certain foods is expected to cost firms around $25.8m per year, but it would later stand at around $24m.

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The legislation is not applicable to vending machine operators that own or operate fewer than 20 machines.

Operators can opt-in by voluntarily registering with the FDA.

Restaurants and other food service venues will also have to display calorie information on their menus, under the new labelling regulations.