Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly
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Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
February 24, 2009








Economic Report:
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Food&HotelVietnam2009
Stimulus Bill Has $100 MM For School Foodservice Equipment
A Bloggish Scan Of Economic News Impacting Foodservice E&S

Industry Report:
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Server Products
Rhodenbaugh, Romer Honored By NAFEM
ASHFA/HFM Explore Possible Merge
FIA Looks At Industry Greening
ASTM Adds Lifecycle Costing Committee
Tim Hortons Now In Business At All Tops Stores
Camille's Grows in Middle East Market



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In This Section:
Massachusetts Governor Wants To Up Restaurant Sales Tax
Plumbers Groups Connect To Study Water-Efficiency Projects
Connecticut Lawmaker Pushes New Fed Food-Safety Agency
Towns In North Carolina, Ohio Hurry Toward FOG Rules
AHRI Worried That New Reefer Laws Won't Be Enforced

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: Food&HotelVietnam2009  
Industry Report Sponsor: Server Products 
Regulatory Report Manitowoc Foodservice

Massachusetts Governor Wants To Up Restaurant Sales Tax
As if foodservice isn't struggling enough with a weakened economy, Massachusetts Governor Patrick Deval wants to raise sales taxes on restaurant meals to help offset state budget shortfalls.

In late January, Deval's office released a $27.97 billion FY 2010 state budget that includes a deficit of $1.1 billion. As part of the governor's "emergency recovery plan" to close that gap, the plan proposes increasing the tax on restaurant meals to 6% from the current 5%. On top of that, his office suggests local municipalities enact an additional "optional" 1% meal tax.

Presently, the 5% meal tax generates about $644 million annually for the state. Deval's proposal would raise an additional $150 million each year for the state's general fund. The local optional tax could raise an additional $200 million for local aid, according to the governor's office.

Peter Christie, CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said restaurants and consumers can ill-afford the higher taxes. "This proposal singles out restaurants at a time when they can least afford it," he said.

 

Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Plumbers Groups Connect To Study Water-Efficiency Projects
With water issues hitting the headlines almost daily, five different groups have formed a coalition to facilitate research into ways the plumbing industry can make more efficient use of water.

Representatives of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, the International Code Council, the Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors and the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute gathered at the office of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson in early January to pledge their support for the initiative. Led by the AWE, the group will sponsor research initiatives designed to advance water efficiency.

"Initial projects being considered for research are high-efficiency toilet drainage, water re-use systems, non-water consuming urinals, and sizing of water-efficient plumbing systems," said Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE's executive director.


Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Connecticut Lawmaker Pushes New Fed Food-Safety Agency
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.) says the Food and Drug Administration isn't doing enough to protect consumers from foodborne illness, and she wants to do something about it. So DeLauro's recently introduced a bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, that would create a new agency solely responsible for regulating food safety from farm to fork.

The FDA presently has jurisdiction over the safety of about 80% of the U.S. food supply, regulating and inspecting all packaged food, produce and seafood. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, is responsible for the safety of poultry and meats.

Part of the problem, DeLauro has said, is that the FDA really isn't focused on food safety because its charter is to regulate and approve pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Her bill would split the FDA into two agencies, one to oversee food safety, the other to regulate medicines and devices.

DeLauro said her bill would modernize food-safety regulation and inspection, requiring food processors to adhere to the same sort of risk-based HACCP program that restaurants have adopted. The plan would also require processors to meet federal standards for reducing or eliminating pathogens in food and submit to regular inspections. A Food Safety Administrator would have regulatory power to order food recalls and fine violators.


Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

Towns In North Carolina, Ohio Hurry Toward FOG Rules
As the Environmental Protection Agency's deadline for water districts to reduce sanitary sewer overflows draws near, more towns are scrambling to confront the difficult task of crafting ordinances to regulate fats, oils and grease.

Among those latest to join the scramble are Rocky Mount and Salisbury, N.C., and Zanesville, Ohio. All three municipalities have been studying ordinances that would require restaurants to install grease traps or interceptors.

Rocky Mount's city council has approved a FOG ordinance that supplements its existing sewer laws. The new rules specifically govern foodservice facilities, now requiring most to have traps or interceptors based on their size and type of operation. A set of the new rules can be found at www.rockymountnc.gov/utilities/documents/FOGPolicy.pdf. Also helpful is a handbook with FAQs, best management practices and a compliance checklist. You can get that at www.rockymountnc.gov/utilities/documents/FOGHandbook.pdf.

Meanwhile, city councils in Zanesville and Salisbury are having a tougher time deciding how to implement FOG ordinances that will be fair to all operators, from chains to mom-and-pops.

Zanesville's public utilities director Mike Sims said the city's drafting rules similar to those in Rocky Mount that will base the size and type of grease trap or interceptor on facility size and type of operation. "There are straightforward engineering guidelines that, based on the number of patrons, number of seats and the type of food [being served] will dictate what size that tank needs to be," he said. The city council tabled discussion on the ordinance until mid-February to give Sims' department time to develop some specifics.

Salisbury's city council held a public hearing Feb. 3 to consider comments on proposals there on how and when to impose new FOG rules. The local utilities district said about 350 restaurants will be affected by new rules, and that some larger facilities might have to close if they're required to incur the costs of installing grease traps. The city has proposed setting a compliance date that would give restaurants incurring greater costs more time.


Section sponsored by Manitowoc Foodservice

AHRI Worried That New Reefer Laws Won't Be Enforced
The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute recently announced it's begun a program to educate users, distributors and installers of commercial walk-in refrigeration equipment about the new California and federal energy efficiency requirements. The laws, almost identical, require equipment makers to adhere to tougher efficiency standards. California's applies to all equipment made after Jan. 1, 2008. The federal rules apply to equipment manufactured after Jan. 1, 2009.

AHRI said the laws contain no enforcement clauses, so manufacturers who comply with the new laws are at a disadvantage to cheaters. Stephen Yurek, AHRI president, said manufacturers have complained that noncompliant equipment makers are undercutting them in the market. With the federal law taking effect last month, they fear the practice will become more widespread.

AHRI's education program includes a handy online checklist that you can download by visiting http://www.ahrinet.org/ARI/util/showdoc.aspx?doc=1202. Yurek said AHRI members believe that certification, in addition to education, is the answer to the potential problem of noncompliance. The DOE has been working on a field testing method for walk-in refrigeration that would let equipment makers label energy-efficient equipment. It won't speculate on when that might happen. The new California and federal standards are prescriptive, not performance-based.



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