New Laws Impacting Foodservice That Go into Effect Jan. 1

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Washington, Rhode Island and Maui County, Hawaii, have new restrictions coming for the use of plasticware. Courtesy of Kevin Lehtla on Unsplash.

A new batch of laws is set to kick in at the start of the new year. From alcohol to-go regulations and food waste laws to minimum wage hikes and single-use plasticware restrictions, a lot could affect those in the foodservice industry.

Here, we’ve compiled some of the most noteworthy laws that are taking effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Food waste

California and New York have passed laws requiring major food producers and retailers that have more than two tons of food waste to donate their excess food and recycle any scraps starting Jan. 1. New York’s legislation, however, excludes hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, K-12 schools and farms from the rule.

Alcohol to-go

California and Washington are set to have new laws around the sale of alcohol to-go. In The Golden State, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control permitted restaurants to sell to-go alcohol through the end of this year; however, Senate Bill 389 is extending this order through the end of 2026. The delivery of alcohol by itself, however, won’t be permitted into the new year.

In Washington, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced liquor licensees will need to apply for new endorsements to continue to-go alcohol. A bill passed last legislative session permitted the sale of alcohol to-go through June 30, 2023, though the new rule means licensees will need to apply for three endorsements—a factory-sealed containers endorsement, a cocktail kits/premixed drinks/wine to-go endorsement and a growlers endorsement—to continue.

Third-party delivery and restaurant reclassification

Senate Bill 911 in Texas will allow foodservice establishments with mixed beverage permits to be reclassified as restaurants if their alcohol sales make up 60% or less of total sales. The bill is meant to regulate third-party food delivery services and was supported by the Texas Restaurant Association, which said it will allow consumers to enjoy the convenience of third-party delivery while helping restaurants recover from the pandemic and creating clear requirements for third-party delivery providers.

Food delivery tips and prices

At the start of the year, it will be illegal for tips made through food delivery services and apps to go to the delivery service in California. Instead, the tips must go to the worker if the order is for delivery or to the restaurant if it’s for pickup. The new law, AB 286, also makes it illegal to charge customers higher prices than what’s listed on the restaurant’s website at the time of the order.

Kids’ drinks

Illinois is implementing a new law requiring restaurants that serve kids’ meals to offer healthier beverage options like milk, water or 100% juice by default. Restaurants can offer different beverages upon request.

Single-use foodservice items

Starting Jan. 1, Washington restaurants no longer will be able to automatically include single-use foodservice items, such as utensils, condiments and straws, with orders. Restaurants can provide these to customers upon request only. In addition, restaurants only will be permitted to offer lids for cold drinks in the drive-thru and at events with over 2,500 people.

In Maui County, Hawaii, a strict plastic disposable foodware ban will take effect prohibiting the use and sale of single-use plastic items like utensils, straws, cups and containers. This ban will affect food providers that serve food or beverages in plastic disposable foodware, along with businesses that sell these items. Instead, food providers and businesses will have to use non-plastic items, such as ones made from compostable materials.

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, restaurants and bars no longer will be able to provide customers with single-use plastic straws unless the customers request them.

Minimum wage

The new year is bringing higher wages to employees in more than 20 states. California’s minimum wage will tick up from $14 to $15 an hour at businesses with more than 26 employees, while employers with 25 or fewer workers will have to raise wages to $14 an hour. Virginia’s minimum wage is jumping $1.50 an hour to $11 as part of a longer-term plan to raise wages to $15 an hour by 2026. Other states seeing significant bumps include Illinois, going from $11 to $12 an hour, Delaware from $9.25 to $10.50, New Jersey (businesses with six or more employees) from $12 to $13 and New Mexico from $10.50 to $11.50.

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