Philly, California Mull Calorie Posting After New York Ruling
Whether and where to post nutrition information in restaurants is still up for grabs in Philadelphia and California, but with the New York City law upheld last week (see story above), the mulling might be over soon.
Philly recently held hearings on a proposal to enact a similar law there. The Committee on Public Health and Human Services reported favorably on the ordinance after the hearings, and put it on the city council's consent agenda. If approved, the law will take effect in a year. Chains in Philly are defined as restaurants with 10 or more stores.
And despite California having a calorie-posting bill shot down by its "Governator" last year, lawmakers there are back this year with another iteration. SB 1420 proposes that chains of 15 units or more be required to post nutrition infoincluding total number of calories, grams of saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates, and milligrams of sodiumon menus in type the same size as the menu item. Restaurants using only menu boards would have to post calories next to each menu item. The bill is going into its third reading. A state assemblywoman has proposed an alternative bill that would only require you to have nutrition info available on the premises, not on the menu.
Worcester Sees Through FOG; Manalapan Now In It
Worcester, Mass., operators recently got a little relief from the Fats Oils Grease ordinance enacted a while back. At issue was the law's requirement for restaurants to install grease traps under mop sinks and floor drains. Lawmakers based their requirement on interpretation of state code written by the Massachusetts Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.
Restaurant operators howled, complaining to the Public Works department that the ordinance was unfair. So city manager Michael O'Brien recently held a meeting with board reps. The reps agreed that the city's ordinance went beyond the intent of their code.
Public works commissioner Robert Moylan said restaurants previously cited for violating the requirement for a grease trap or interceptor under mop sinks and floor drains will be granted an abeyance unless they're deemed a public nuisance.
Meanwhile, Manalapan, N.J., has a new FOG program as of May 1. The Western Monmouth Utilities Authority is sending out letters to operators letting them know that inspectors will start making the rounds June 1, taking an inventory of grease traps in the area. Inspectors also will audit restaurants' paperwork on their traps to ensure that they're being maintained, emptied and cleaned on a regular basis.
The utility has a new "Best Practices" manual it wants operators to follow, which can be found at www.wmua.manalapan.nj.us.
Restaurants that don't schedule an inspection within 30 days or comply with the new rules can be fined $200 for every violation. If you have other questions, call Russ Corbett, WMUA Superintendent, at 732/446-9300.
Baltimore Wants Kids In School, Not Cafes
In an effort to improve school attendance, a Baltimore city council member wants to fine restaurants that serve children after 7:30 a.m. on school days. Baltimore already has a daytime curfew for school age kids under 16 that says they can't be in any public place, such as restaurants or malls, after 9 a.m. on school days unless they have a written excuse or are in the company of an adult.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke wants to back the curfew up to 7:30 a.m. and impose fines of $50 on parents and $500 on restaurant operators who allow kids to remain on the premises after that time. Anybody looking for a good breakfast before school would have to get it at home or before 7:30.
The bill is in committee and has been referred to the school system for review.
Wonder what grade the schools will give it.
Beijing Bans Butts For Olympics
As part of China's campaign to green up before the Summer Olympics, Beijing officials announced that as of May 1 the city would begin cracking down on smoking.
Existing laws in the city already prohibited smoking in public places such as schools, hospitals, movie theaters, public transit and sports arenas, but they were seldom enforced. That's changing, the government announced, and new limitations are being imposed on previously exempt establishments such as restaurants, hotels and bars.
The new law will still allow smoking in such hospitality businesses, but only if they provide separate smoking rooms.
China has 320 million smokers, nearly a fourth of the world's total, according to Sun Xianli, a senior Beijing health official.
Beijing has lagged behind some other major Chinese cities in smoking restrictions but is catching up now.