Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly

Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
September 28, 2004

Economic Report:
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FER Takes First Cut At 2005 E&S Forecast
Blue Chip Consensus Pares '04, '05 Forecasts
Fed Raises Interest Rates Again; Oil Prices Spike Again

Industry Report:
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FCSI Names Six Award Winners
McDonald's Tests McDelis
'Less Is More' In Portion Sizes, Study Finds
Panchero's Eyes Nationwide Growth
Applebee's Ups Growth Plans
Overtime Battle Rekindles

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In This Section:
Texas Schools A No Fry Zone
Kansas Shuffles Inspection Duties
Oregon Offers Recourse In Disputes
Pennsylvania Requires Certified Food Handlers
St. Paul Mayor Says 'Butt Out,' County Says 'Butts Out'

This issue's Economic Report
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Regulatory ReportSponsored by ES3

Texas Schools A No-Fry Zone
Talk about the proverbial rock and a hard place. That’s the spot many Texas school foodservice directors find themselves in, thanks to a new state anti-obesity policy nixing frying as part of on-site food prep and requiring operators to get rid all fryers.

According to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Public School Nutrition Policy, schools that can implement the no-fryer rule without modifications to equipment or facility (additional capital expense) should do so by the 2005-’06 school year. Schools that have to make equipment changes or kitchen mods to comply will have until the ’09-’10 school year to do so. A clarified, revised version of the policy took effect Aug. 1.

The rock and the hard place? Schools that fail to comply risk the Texas DOA withholding federal meal reimbursements. On the other hand, many locations--such as high schools with open campuses—that cut fryers risk losing students to nearby fast food shops, opponents of the policy say.

School foodservice directors, while concerned about childhood obesity, are also concerned about practical matters and customer satisfaction.

"A lot of school districts must put out a huge volume in a short time, and we’re not sure that a bank of combi ovens [would be fast enough]," says Beth Wallace, president of the Texas Association for School Nutrition and child nutrition director at the Comal Independent School District.

Financing the change is another challenge. "It’s going to cost my district $200,000 to replace equipment that’s still new," Wallace adds. "We’re hoping the state will reconsider this policy."

Nearly 50% of Texas school districts are at the limits of local tax rates, according to the Texas Education Agency. Texas has 1,256 school districts and more than 7,100 regular instructional schools.

Section sponsored by ES3

Kansas Shuffles Inspection Duties
Good news and "interesting" news on the inspection front for some Kansas restaurant operators:

The good news is that, effective Oct.1, businesses operating both grocery retail and foodservice under one roof will no longer face inspections by multiple agencies. The reorganization of inspection duties between the Department of Health and Environment and the Department of Agriculture will mean one inspector will visit both sides of such establishments.

The "interesting" news for operators is that the reorganization probably will make for more frequent restaurant inspections.

The reshuffling calls for KDHE inspectors to focus solely on restaurants and lodging, and that focus might allow for slightly more frequent inspections.

The KDOA, meanwhile, will inspect all other food-related facilities, including grocery stores, food processing plants, retail store-based foodservice operations, mobile retail ice cream vendors, vending machines, food vending machine companies and food vending machine dealers.

"We’re trying to make this as seamless as possible for the industry," notes Mary Glassburner, director for the foodservice program for the department of health and environment.

Kansas is home to more than 12,000 restaurants and 3,700 retail grocery stores and food processing plants.

Section sponsored by ES3

Oregon Offers Recourse In Disputes
Dealings between health inspectors and foodservice operators can occasionally be prickly. And it’s usually the inspector who prevails. End of story.

Not so in Oregon, however. For operators who completely disagree with an inspector, the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Foodborne Illness Prevention division offers a relatively unknown mediation program.

The program, straightforwardly enough called "Resolving Disagreements Over Interpretations of Food Sanitation Rules," aims to ensure consistent enforcement of state and local regulations. It debuted nearly four years ago at the request of the Oregon Restaurant Association. Inspectors carry brochures they can hand out to operators if needed. No takers so far, though: All disagreements have been settled at the local level.

Like so many things, an ounce of prevention is easier than the proverbial pound of cure. "Operators should get—and READ—a copy of the state and local regulations that govern them," advises Jim Austin, principal at Colorado Restaurant Consulting of Denver. "That way you have it in writing and you know what the equipment standard is."

You can check out the mediation brochure online at the Oregon Dept. of Human Services Web site,; at the Dispute Resolution Process link.

And most state food codes are available online—contact your state restaurant association for the link.

Section sponsored by ES3

Pennsylvania Requires Certified Food Handlers
On July 1 Pennsylvania joined the growing ranks of states requiring foodservice operations to have at least one safety-certified supervisor on staff. The state’s Food Employee Certification Act, enacted by the Department of Agriculture, affects an estimated 31,600 restaurants, as well as stadiums, recreational facilities, commissaries, caterers and any other business working with food.

Several counties, however, will not be impacted, thanks to safety certification programs active since 1994. Those counties include Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia, plus Lansdale and State College boroughs.

Though the Act requires one supervisory employee per establishment to become certified in food safety and sanitation, that person does not need to be on premises during all business hours.

Initial certification is valid for five years. Training is available through classroom, computer-based media, a combination of home study and classroom or home study. Earning certification calls for a minimum score of at least 75% on the final exam.

For a list of certification sources and a FAQ page, log onto and click on the link for "Certification."

Section sponsored by ES3

St. Paul Mayor Says 'Butt Out,' County Says 'Butts Out'
Smoke ’em if you got ’em….No, wait.

In mid-September, St. Paul, Minn., mayor Randy Kelly vetoed a city-wide smoking ban proposed by the city council, but the next day the Ramsey County Board voted unanimously to ban smoking in restaurants not just in St. Paul but in the whole county. The county's ban, which goes into effect March 31, 2005, falls under the jurisdiction of the St. Paul-Ramsey County Department of Health.

Smoking will still be allowed in bars if 50% or more of the establishment’s sales are from liquor. Restaurants can still allow smoking in their bar areas if they physically separate them from dining areas. Only problem is that they'll have to have two sets of food and beverage licenses.

Minneapolis passed a similar smoking ban in July, as did neighboring Bloomington. Those bans also take effect next March. Hennepin County, in which the two cities are located, has opened public hearings on a proposed ban for the whole county.

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