Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly
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Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
June 14, 2005








Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
Road to Anaheim.


Blue Chip Economists Hold Forecasts Steady
NRA's Restaurant Performance Index Edges Higher In April
Caterer Charts U.K. Equipment Market Up 4% In 2004

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
Kolpak/Manitowoc Foodservice Group

Four Big Postings At Enodis
LED Study Sheds Light On Energy Savings
NRA Association Announces Hennessy Winners
IH/M&RS Calls For Gold Key Entries
Commercial Expands In Florida
Don Opens New Texas Facility



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In This Section:
Maine Restaurants Can Shop For Electricity Rates
51st W.Va. County Goes Smokeless While Another Battles On
New Jersey Schools Ponder Snack Attack
British Medicos Push Knife Ban, Say Points Are The Point
Toast May Get Cancer Warning Label In California

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: Road to Anaheim |  Industry ReportSponsor: Kolpak/Manitowoc Foodservice Group


Regulatory Report Sponsored by APW Wyott Innovations

Maine Restaurants Can Shop For Electricity Rates
Note to Maine operators: The state expects your electricity rates to rise soon, so you might want to start exercising your right to shop competitive sources.

Central Maine Power's standard-package electric rates have been a bargain in recent years, according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, so few operators until now have taken advantage of the state's five-year-old deregulation. Though competing power producers generate roughly 90% of the energy distributed by Central Maine Power to businesses in the state, medium-sized businesses, including restaurants, are getting barely a third of their energy from those competitive sources.

All that might change soon, however. This summer the MPUC will be soliciting new bids for an expiring six-month contract. With natural gas prices rising, the commission expects rates to rise closer to market prices.

Businesses looking to avoid price spikes and perhaps even reduce energy costs over the long term are being encouraged to shop for competitive rates. Since buying electricity has become so complex, the MPUC recommends that operators use professionals to help. Energy companies themselves can design contracts that smooth rates over time, and there are companies that act as middlemen, working with suppliers and clients to negotiate the best deals.

The MPUC has been sponsoring seminars on the subject.

 

Section sponsored by APW Wyott Innovations

51st W.Va. County Goes Smokeless While Another Battles On
The Logan County, W.Va., Board of Health passed an indoor smoking ordinance last month, making it the 51st county in the state to enact a smoking ban. The ordinance prohibits smoking in all public places except bars.

Only four counties in West Virginia are without similar bans. Lewis County, otherwise the most recent to pass no-smoking rules, puts its ban into effect July 1.

But Ohio County's ban, scheduled to take effect last month, has been delayed by a legal challenge. The Ohio County Restaurant and Tavern Owners' Association filed suit claiming the ban had been enacted illegally by board members of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, saying the newly-named members had not yet been officially sworn in. An Ohio County Circuit Court judge upheld the motion.

The two sides had until June 7 to respond. Regardless of the judge's decision, county health department medical director Dr. William Mercer says the board won't back down. Paul Harris, attorney for the restaurant owners, says voters should decide. He said he hopes Governor Joe Manchin puts the issue on the ballot in a special election the Governor is expected to call this fall.


Section sponsored by APW Wyott Innovations

New Jersey Schools Ponder Snack Attack
Following the lead of 17 other states, New Jersey legislators are pushing a bill through the state assembly that would ban junk food in school vending machines.

A package of Senate measures and a similar bill in the state Assembly both would prohibit public school vending machines from stocking any item that lists sugar as the first ingredient or anything that has more than eight grams of fat per serving except nuts and seeds. The ban would stay in effect each day until 30 minutes after schools close. Vending machines in high schools also would be required to stock at least one healthy snack.

The Senate measures were approved by a special panel in late May. The Assembly bill already passed and has gone to the full Senate for consideration.

Junk food bans are on the books in a few states, including Arkansas, California and Texas. Similar proposals have been introduced in at least 17 states this year.


Section sponsored by APW Wyott Innovations

British Medicos Push Knife Ban, Say Points Are The Point
If you think some legislation here in America is wacky, try the U.K. Three emergency medical experts at a London hospital are calling for a ban on long, pointed knives, especially those used in your kitchens. Their editorial, published in the British Medical Journal, noted an 18% increase in violent crime in the U.K. from 2003 to `04.

"Unfortunately," they wrote, "no data seem to have been collected to indicate how often kitchen knives are used in stabbings, but our own experience and that of police officers and pathologists we have spoken to indicates that they are used in at least half of all cases."

The solution, they say, is to ban pointed knives and require kitchen knives to have rounded, blunt ends. Try telling that to your cooks and they're likely to see that you get the real point.


Section sponsored by APW Wyott Innovations

Toast May Get Cancer Warning Label In California
Okay, so maybe the Brits don't have a lock on weirdness. California is mulling a law that may require a warning label on foods that are toasted or fried, including cereal, potatoes, bread, almonds, even prune juice.

State voters, it seems, opened the door when they approved Proposition 65, a warning-label law. The law says consumers have to be notified when foods contain hazardous agents. So far the label has been applied to products like beverage alcohol and fish that might contain mercury. Acrylamide, a carcinogen on the state's list, is a synthetic polymer used for grout. Three years ago, Swedish scientists discovered it's also formed when starchy foods like potatoes and bread are fried, toasted or baked.

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says it has no choice but to require the warning. But state officials are considering an exemption for foods containing acrylamide. After a public comment period, a decision could come as early as this summer.

Separately, a researcher at Texas A&M University found that vacuum frying potato chips or fries at lower temperatures (244°F vs. the usual 330°-360°F) for longer periods of time (8 mins. vs. 4 mins.) substantially reduced the amount of acrylamide normally formed during frying. Potatoes fried at the lower cooking temps also retained less oil.

In the meantime, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been studying the chemical for three years. Acrylamide levels in many brands of food can be found at www.cfsan.fda.gov by clicking on "acrylamide."



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