Passengers travel on the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles / STIB; Maatschappij voor het Intercommunaal Vervoer te Brussel / MIVB) underground train system (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Sugar-rich snacks banned around European Commission headquarters


Travellers at Brussels Metro Stations Schuman, Montgomery and Arts-Law will soon only be able to purchase nutritious bites from snack-vending machines.

The Brussels region government has decided there will not be any sweets, crisps or soft drinks on offer in those and other stations in the near future, including the one servicing the European Commission headquarters.

To find new operators and providers for the healthy food-and-drink vending machines, the Brussels region held a public tender last year, local news outlet BRUZZ reported.

The new range of snacks is intended to counter the current offer, which is limited to what nutritionists claim are “industrial”, unhealthy, ultra-processed food, with too much sugar and salt.

Testing of the new vending machine concept will start as soon as the necessary elements are in place, according to mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt of the Green party: possibly within two months.

Asked about what exactly these “healthy snacks” were, Van den Brandt’s office informed Brussels Signal it depended on the provider. The Government only issued guidelines based on principles outlined by the portal

There is no strict definition but the reference apparently takes into consideration concepts such as health effects, sustainability and local production.

While other details could not be given, it seemed climate also played a role given there was a preference for vegetable protein rather than animal.

Van den Brandt’s office said specific details could only be given by the providers and referred questions to the Brussels public transport organisation, STIB/MIVB. It declined to give further information, pointing to the fact that a final decision on operators and such had not yet been made.

Brussels MP Thomas Naessens of the French-speaking “green” party Ecolo welcomed the plan.

“With this, we do not want to say who should eat what, but everyone should have the opportunity to choose healthy food.

“These new vending machines fit into Good Food, the regional vision of sustainable and quality food that is often also local,” Naessens noted.

He said he did not intend to limit the project to vending machines and wanted to expand into shops around the Metro stations.

Some critics have suggested that perhaps Brussels should be more focused on combatting drug trafficking, harassment, violence and a more efficient public transport system instead.