Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly
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Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
March 27, 2007








Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
The NAFEM Show 2007
Preliminary Fourth Quarter Numbers Look Good For Most Public E&S Companies
Manufacturers Suggest Alternatives As Nickel, Stainless Prices Just Get Stupider And Stupider
Economists Pull 2007 Forecast Back A Bit, While Long-Term Looks Bright, If You Like 3% GDP Growth

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
FHV2007
New Group Pushes For Energy-Efficient Lighting
Denny's Dumps Trans Fat; O.C. Eateries Do Too As Ban Looms
MAFSI Schedules Online Seminar Series
FER's MUFES Meeting Wins Folio: Award



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In This Section:
North Carolina Turns Back Code Change
Yes, Still More Health Departments Put Reports Online
FDA Catches Flak For Voluntary Produce Guidelines
Japanese Restaurants Soon Subject To Visits From 'Sushi Police'

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: The NAFEM Show 2007 
Industry Report Sponsor: FHV2007
Regulatory Report Enodis

North Carolina Turns Back Code Change
If you don't want to install a sprinkler in your smaller North Carolina operations, you can exhale now. The North Carolina Building Code Council has rolled back the recent building code change that would have required restaurants with occupancy loads of more than 100 people to install sprinkler systems.

Following the lead of many other states, North Carolina recently updated its building code to bring it in line with the 2003 International Building Code model. The new rules took effect this January. But NCBCC council member John Hitch said the rules regarding fire safety would have put an unfair burden on small restaurants.

States have been changing building code fire safety rules in response to the Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 98 people in '03. Hitch, an architect, said he agrees the code change lowering the occupancy load threshold to 100 from 300 makes sense for nightclubs. Occupancy loads in nightclubs are 5 sq. ft. per person. Code requires restaurants, however, to have 15 sq. ft. per person.

Hitch's proposed modification to the new building code rolls back the occupancy threshold to 300 for restaurants only. Nightclubs must still meet the new requirement. The council recently agreed, passing the amended code by a vote of 8 to 4.

 

Section sponsored by Enodis

Yes, Still More Health Departments Put Reports Online
This business of posting health inspection reports online is getting passé, like smoking bans and trans fat news. Still, here's the latest: Recently added to the roster of departments posting "e-reports" are the Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Public Health; the Hamilton County General Health District, which covers Cincinnati, Ohio; and the Broome County Health Department, Binghamton, N.Y.

Delaware's health department is responsible for inspecting 3,500 facilities annually, and the state's food code is modeled on the FDA Food Code. Reports are now available in Excel files online at www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/hsp/feir.html. The department hopes to make them viewable on the website this summer.

Also available sometime this summer will be online reports from the Hamilton County Health Department. Inspectors there recently started using tablet notebook PCs to record inspection results, and Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said the department should be posting reports on www.hamiltoncountyhealth.org by August.

Broome County also recently gave its inspectors computer technology that eliminates hand-written reports. Spokesperson Mark Mancini said the department is still working on posting the reports. For more information on when you can view reports online, check the website at www.gobroomecounty.com/hd/HaSHealthDept.php.


Section sponsored by Enodis

FDA Catches Flak For Voluntary Produce Guidelines
The Food and Drug Administration has released its response to the recent spate of fresh produce-produced outbreaks of foodborne illness. Rather than mandate food safety procedures for produce growers and processors, the FDA released a final draft of a "Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables," calling on the industry to police itself.

California's Department of Food and Agriculture already agreed last month to a voluntary safety proposal promoted by the Western Growers Association. The California Leafy Green Handler Marketing Agreement lets growers and processors get a seal from department inspectors if they follow best practices.

The FDA's guidance asks growers and processors across the country to implement a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-like safety program. While the FDA response was welcomed and supported by industry groups like the United Fresh Produce Association, consumer groups and legislators said the agency hasn't gone far enough. At a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in Madison, Wis., recently, even UFPA president Thomas Stenzel asked the FDA and USDA to put together mandatory rules for both processors and growers.

To get more feedback, the FDA is holding public hearings on its food safety monitoring efforts. The first was held last week in Oakland, Calif. A second hearing is planned for April 13 in College Park, Md.


Section sponsored by Enodis

Japanese Restaurants Soon Subject To Visits From 'Sushi Police'
Guidelines aren't really regulations, but here's another third-party inspection program you can opt into. If you have any items listed as Japanese on your menu, you could soon get a visit from the "sushi police."

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is implementing an "authenticity" program for Japanese restaurants outside Japan. The plan involves having local representatives of the ministry inspect restaurants claiming to be Japanese for authentic ingredients and culinary techniques.

While promoting and protecting Japanese food culture, the ministry also hopes the plan results in higher exports of Japanese food and seafood products. The ministry has stressed that the plan is voluntary. Restaurants don't have to participate or be inspected. Those that don't, however, won't receive the ministry's stamp of approval, which it hopes will emulate similar programs from Thailand and Italy, or French appellations.

The plan has initial approval. Inspectors could begin reviewing overseas restaurants as soon as April 1.



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