Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly

Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
October 7, 2008

Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
Foodservice Group

How Will Financial Crisis Affect Foodservice World? Find Out At FER Forecast Webinar
Commodities Prices Moderating, But Not For Us
NRA Performance Index Remains In Negative Territory
Jobs Decline Again, Consumer Confidence Remains Weak

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
Hotelex Shanghai
Wendy's, Triarc Say What's Old(er) Is New Again
Starbucks' About-Face Good News For Oven Makers
Gill Wins FEDA's Anoff Award
MAFSI Names 2008 Officers, Award Winners

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In This Section:
California Labeling Law Signed, U.S. Senators 'LEAN' Toward National Standard
Menu Calorie Listing Spreads Beyond NYC
Another California Town Tackles Expanded Poly Foam
Restaurants Lose Fight Against S.F. Health Plan
Milwaukie Passes FOG Law But Gives Coffee Shops A Break

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: Manitowoc Foodservice Group 
Industry Report Sponsor: Hotelex Shanghai
Regulatory Report Enodis

California Labeling Law Signed, U.S. Senators 'LEAN' Toward National Standard
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California's menu-labeling law Sept. 30, making that state the first to mandate calorie counts on chain-restaurant menus and menu boards. He vetoed an earlier bill, but approved the less stringent provisions of this one, which also had been endorsed by the California Restaurant Association.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., the plot thickened when two U.S. Senators introduced a bill in late September that would establish national uniform standards for nutrition labeling on restaurant menus.

If passed, the bill would pre-empt California's new law.

The federal Labeling Education and Nutrition, or LEAN, Act would require chains with 20 or more stores nationwide to post calories on menu boards, or a sign adjacent to the menu board, or a sign in the customer queue, or on menus or menu inserts if the chain uses them. Menu boards, signs or menus also would have to direct consumers to where they can find information on 10 particular nutrients.

The National Restaurant Association endorsed the bill, saying that it's a better way to provide nutrition information to consumers. "We support the legislation's goal to replace a patchwork of inconsistent state and local ordinances with a national standard for chain restaurants that empowers consumers to make the choices that are best for them," NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney said.

A uniform national standard for nutrition labeling on menus would make it easier for restaurants to provide the information rather than trying to comply with local ordinances that have popped up recently from New York to California.

The LEAN Act, as proposed, would establish both a uniform standard and a single set of guidelines for how nutrition information is calculated. The bill also provides restaurants protection against lawsuits if they comply with the law.


Section sponsored by Enodis

Menu Calorie Listing Spreads Beyond NYC
Officials in Westchester County, N.Y., are thinking what's good for the goose is good for the gander. County legislators have been looking into the possibility of implementing a menu-labeling law similar to the one adopted in New York City recently.

The board of legislators invited an attorney who helped the city write its menu-labeling law to consult with members of the county board's community services and legislation committees in mid-September. Committee members also heard the county health department head talk about how the ordinance could help reduce obesity rates.

To be fair, the community services committee brought in representatives from the New York State Restaurant Association the following week to present the industry's point of view. As considered, the ordinance would apply to chains with 10 or more stores in the county.

Section sponsored by Enodis

Another California Town Tackles Expanded Poly Foam
The city of Pacifica, Calif., is drafting an ordinance that would ban expanded polystyrene foam packaging.

Concerned that Styrofoam, generic equivalents and other types of plastic packaging are harming marine life, as well as causing an unsightly litter problem, the city council asked staff members to draft an ordinance banning the materials.

Council members suggested that the new rules should be phased in to give restaurants time to use up old stock of plastic packaging and encourage them to begin using recyclable materials for take-out food.

If the city adopts a ban, Pacifica would join more than half a dozen other California cities that have put restrictions on similar take-out packaging, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Monica, Calabasas and Millbrae.

Section sponsored by Enodis

Restaurants Lose Fight Against S.F. Health Plan
It's on again. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that San Francisco's universal health plan doesn't violate federal regulation of employee benefit plans.

A little refresher: Two years ago, the city passed an ordinance requiring employers to fund a program to provide healthcare benefits for the city's uninsured.

Since then, you've read in Fortnightly of various legal challenges that ensued. In December, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association challenged the city's healthcare law in district court, saying it violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) prohibiting states or localities from regulating benefits programs. A court agreed, but the city immediately filed an appeal, which it won on Jan. 9.

At issue was whether the city of San Francisco could require firms with 20 or more employees to either provide healthcare coverage for them or pay into a city fund at a rate of $1.17 to $1.76 per hour per employee (depending on the number of employees). Restaurants started paying into the fund, in many cases tacking a surcharge onto customers' bills to cover the cost.

GGRA pursued the suit, hoping to overturn the ordinance, but the recent appeals-court ruling holds that ERISA doesn't pre-empt the city's program. Start passing the hat.

Section sponsored by Enodis

Milwaukie Passes FOG Law But Gives Coffee Shops A Break
Milwaukie, Ore., a suburb of Portland, has moved ahead and passed a fats, oils, grease ordinance that requires all foodservice operations to install grease traps, but the city offered an exemption to the four coffee shops in town.

Back in September when the city council proposed toughening its ordinance, coffee shop owners protested, saying their businesses don't contribute FOG to the sewer system. The city passed the ordinance anyway, but said the coffee shops won't have to install grease traps if they apply for an exemption, follow best practices and don't change menus in a way that would cause them to add more FOG to the waste-water system.

Enforcement of the ordinance is triggered if restaurant FOG exceeds 100 ml.

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