Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly
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Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
March 13, 2007








Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
The NAFEM Show 2007
Weather Clips January Traffic, Sales, NRA Study Shows
Traffic, Sales Rose In December, Reports NPD
Chain Unit Index Pops Back Up In February

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
Server Products
Vote Now For FER Dealer Awards
Middleby To Acquire Jade Products
Produce Safety Conference Scheduled In March
Hennessey Travelers' 50th Puts 50 Air Force Personnel In CIA
CFLs Get Big Push Here And Australia
Last Charity Ride To NAFEM Gearing Up



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In This Section:
California Produce Facing New Regs
Menu Fight Pits NYC Council Against Health Department
More Health Departments Put Inspections Online
B.C. Cracks Down On Underage Drinking
Foie Gras Police Cite First Offender In Chi-Town

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: The NAFEM Show 2007 
Industry Report Sponsor: Server Products
Regulatory Report Enodis

California Produce Facing New Regs
After a couple of major E. coli outbreaks last year that stemmed from produce grown in California, the state's industry faces an uncertain regulatory future. While the industry has taken steps to self-regulate, several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has suggested federal regs will be imposed if industry efforts fail to make produce safer.

Last month, California's Department of Food and Agriculture approved a voluntary food safety program called the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The agreement requires produce handlers to accept product only from approved growers and follow safe handling procedures. Those that comply will get state inspection stickers, a sort of certification seal.

But California Senator Dean Florez said voluntary programs don't go far enough. In January, Florez introduced three bills in the state legislature to mandate safety procedures in the produce industry. Among other things, State Bill 200 creates a state leafy greens inspection program; SB 201 specifies good agricultural practices that produce growers must follow and requires them to have a HACCP plan; and SB 202 would require the industry to create a trace-back system in the event of an outbreak of foodborne illness.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "prefers an industry-regulated solution" to the problem, according to spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart. While he hasn't specifically threatened to veto the bills, Schwarzenegger has made it clear he wants to help the fresh spinach industry get back on its feet.

In the meantime, California's Department of Health Services said the source of last fall's E. coli outbreak has been narrowed down to a 50-acre farm in San Benito County. The FDA report on the outbreak is due out in a few weeks.

 

Section sponsored by Enodis

Menu Fight Pits NYC Council Against Health Department
If the New York City council has its way, you'll get a little leeway in how you present nutrition information in the Big Apple.

Last December, the city's health board passed a new ordinance that requires chains that make nutrition info available to customers as of March 1 to post it on menus and menu boards by July 1 this year.

But councilman Joel Rivera has other ideas. Suggesting the health department's ordinance is unfair and too costly to restaurants, Rivera proposed legislation last month that would still require restaurants to post nutrition info, but on pamphlets, posters, tray liners, tabletents or other media, but not on the menus and menu boards.

The problem with the health department's ordinance, according to the National Restaurant Association, is that 70% of customers customize their orders. Nutrition info for all the possible combinations wouldn't fit on menu boards, say supporters of Rivera's bill.

Wendy's International pulled nutrition information from its NYC stores before the March 1 deadline in response to the fat fight. A disclaimer on the company's web site for customers of the chain's 50-plus NYC stores said "since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn't enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation."

In the meantime, Philadelphia, which followed New York's lead in passing a trans fat ban recently, now is proposing legislation to require chains to post nutrition info.


Section sponsored by Enodis

More Health Departments Put Inspections Online
It's getting harder and harder to bury a bad health department inspection.

The latest locales to put health inspection results online include Tacoma, Wash.; Niagara, Ont.; and Prince Edward Island.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department added restaurant inspection results to its site because "consumers have a right to know," according to department manager Rick Porso. Results now can be found at www.tpchd.org.

The state restaurant association expressed concern that consumers read and interpret the results correctly. Last year, the department conducted 8,500 inspections and found something wrong in almost every place visited, but inspection results don't indicate the severity of the problem. There were 946 cold storage temperature violations last year, for example, but inspection results don't say whether a temperature was 1°F over the required 41°F standard or 20°F over.

The Niagara Region Public Health Department in Ontario recently added inspection results to its site as well. Customers can go to Niagara InfoDine, look up a restaurant and find out the date of the latest inspection and any actions taken by the department. For more information or to use the site, go to www.regional.niagara.on.ca and click on NiagaraInfoDine.

Rather than post all inspection results, the Prince Edward Island Department of Health presently only posts warnings that have been issued to operators. The posts include the violations and actions taken by the restaurant to get back in compliance. The site is updated every two months. Full reports will be posted beginning next fall. For more info, go to www.gov.pe.ca/environmentalhealth.


Section sponsored by Enodis

B.C. Cracks Down On Underage Drinking
Underage drinking laws just changed in British Columbia. In an attempt to curb the problem and the attendant consequences, the Ministry of Public Safety has announced tougher penalties for bars, restaurants and package stores and changed rules for requesting identification.

The minimum fine for selling alcohol to minors rose to $7,500 (Canadian) from $5,000, or your liquor license can now be suspended for 10 days instead of four.

The new law no longer requires you to request two pieces of ID from patrons who appear to be under 25 because it was too hard to enforce. Patrons must show two pieces of ID, however, if you request it.

The legal drinking age in Canada is 19, and the new law adds penalties to kids who try to buy alcohol with fake IDs. Minors can be ticketed by police; if they don't pay the fines, they can lose their driver's license.


Section sponsored by Enodis

Foie Gras Police Cite First Offender In Chi-Town
The Chicago Health Department has nabbed its first foie gras offender. Doug Sohn, the owner of Hot Doug's, put a copy of the warning letter issued by the department in January on his counter and advertised a special foie gras-laced hot dog on a menu board and on his web site.

The health department didn't take kindly to the nose-thumbing at what Mayor Richard Daley has called "silliest" ordinance the city council has ever passed. It slapped Sohn with a citation and confiscated the offending sausage.

Sohn and his self-styled "sausage superstore and encased meat emporium" face a fine of $250 to $500 at a March 29 hearing.



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