CBD-Infused Food and Drinks Have Been Banned From NYC Restaurants and Bars

“If you’ve been relying on a smidgen of CBD oil in your latte to relax after a long day at work, you might want to look into alternative methods of decompression (at least temporarily).

According to the New York Daily News, as of Tuesday, the New York City Department of Health is prohibiting restaurants and bars from selling any and all perishable products containing cannabidiol (or CBD, for short), a compound found in marijuana purported to have therapeutic effects.

This might seem dire, but the ruling was basically inevitable. When it comes to the ever-fluctuating invocations of cannabis law, state governments aren’t going to take any chances with validating CBD oil as a safe ingredient until the compound is confirmed to be harmless on a federal level. CBD oil was banned from Californian food last July, and authorities in Maine are taking steps to strip businesses of the marijuana-adjacent treats this week.”

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The NYC Restaurants Ordered Closed Last Week

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“Filth flies, roaches, mice and unwashed hands — restaurants across the city have dirty secrets they’d rather you didn’t know about. Fortunately for the diner’s well-being, New York City’s Health Department is watching.

Every year, inspectors go unannounced into more than 24,000 restaurants in the city. Of them, the majority are fine, but some fall disgustingly short of the city’s cleanliness requirements.

The most common violations, according to the city, are food stored at wrong temperatures, vermin, “plumbing” issues (the mind boggles) and basic food safety protocols not being followed.”

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More New York City Restaurants Have ‘A’ Grades Than Ever Before

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“Eight years after former mayor Michael Bloomberg tasked the Department of Health with completely dismantling and rebuilding the city’s restaurant grading system, a record amount of restaurants have “A” grades, and that’s despite the fact that said grading system is as confusing and arbitrary as ever.”

“In this year’s Mayor Management Report, data shows that in fiscal year 2018, 93.7% of 24,000 restaurants received “A” grades compared to 93.3% of restaurants last year and 85.4% of restaurants in 2012. Meanwhile, the DOH continues to ding restaurants for violations that don’t relate to food safety, creating a system in which owners and chefs must pay fines and place “Grade Pending” signs in their windows while they contest their initial grade.”

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Street Vendors Protest Limited Number of Permits

13087313_10153582577593519_8831297411753637903_n.0.jpgThere are few things more closely associated with New York City than the smell of roasted peanuts and the ubiquitous carts selling shwarma, hot dogs, or decidedly-not-cold-brew iced coffee. There are around 20,000 street vendors in NYC, but the city only hands out 5,000 permits a year for a cost of $300 each – meaning many sellers are operating illegally or renting permits at much higher rates. On Tuesday, hundreds of vendors gathered at city hall to protest the cap on permits, originally issued in the 80’s in an effort to clean up the city streets. According to the protestors, that cap is no longer necessary, and puts a huge hurdle in the way of those who just want to legally work.

Some argue that the cap is still necessary, as the health department already struggles to keep up with monitoring the number of vendors with permits. Others view the vendors as “unsanitary and unsightly,” and worry that more permits will create dangerous street congestion and sanitation issues. Arguably, the increased revenue from adding more permits could help offset the added costs of inspections and enforcement, but the problem is a sticky one.

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Competitors See Opportunity in Chipotle’s Troubles

The Chipotle food-safety saga has been impossible to ignore for the last few months, as everyone from hungry college students to Wall Street traders are forced to reckon with the chain’s downfall. For other fast-casual and fast food restaurants, however, the news is an opportunity to snatch some new guests. As we wrote earlier, Sweetgreen has already earned the moniker “the new Chipotle” to some, and they’ll undoubtedly benefit at least somewhat from the Mexican chain’s decrease in sales. Others are hoping that they can improve their image by highlighting food safety practices – and surreptitiously reminding everyone that they haven’t caused any norovirus outbreaks recently.

Canadian chain Freshii is twisting the knife by offering half-priced Mexican food while Chipotles everywhere are closed for an all-hands meeting and regroup. They claim that this is to “help consumers through these dark hours,” and that “the least [they] could do was look after their customers while Chipotle paused to recalibrate.”

White Castle, while not a direct competitor of Chipotle, has decided now would be a good time to launch a website devoted entirely to advertising their food safety practices. The website is unambiguously named http://www.WhiteCastleClean.com, and it showcases their commitment to “promoting food safety, cleanliness and transparency.”

Chipotle meanwhile is struggling to recover while their stocks are in free-fall. CEO Steve Ells has made repeated statements about their new food safety practices, and promised that they will release any information about the source of the outbreaks last year. This Super Bowl, they are offering $50 currency card and a limited-edition gift from the makers of Tabasco sauce to anyone who uses their catering service.

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Patio Dining with Pets Under Fierce Debate

Dog owners all over New York have been celebrating the new State law which would allow them to bring their dogs onto restaurant patios while they eat. But the department of health isn’t too thrilled about this doggy dining, and they’re hoping to impose regulations that would make it almost impossible for restaurants to participate. The regulations include extensive signage specifying where dogs can and can’t be, tag checks at the door to ensure dogs are properly registered, and barriers between dining areas and sidewalks to prevent the dogs from touching any pets or people outside.

In a statement to the press, the department of health said that these regulations “explain to restaurants owners how to protect the health and safety of their patrons, and passersby.” But proponents of the original bill, including members of the restaurant industry, feel that the regulations completely neuter its intent.

The Department of Health is encouraging feedback through January 26th on their website, and will hold a public hearing on that day at their Long Island City offices.

To read more, click here.

The Government Wants You to Have Your Coffee and Drink it Too

The federal government just released their dietary guidelines for 2015-2019, and most of them should come as no surprise. The guidelines are updated every five years to reflect current research and recommendations in the interest of promoting public health. For the most part, they tend to remain much the same: eat more vegetables and whole grains, avoid sugars and trans fats. The updates this year include changes to the recommended sugar intake (which should now be only 10% of daily calorie intake),  increases in allowable salt intake for certain demographic groups (now up to 2,300 mg a day), and the removal of a daily cholesterol recommendation. There was no recommendation to avoid red meat, despite the studies from the World Health Organization earlier this year indicating that it has carcinogenic properties on par with tobacco. All this is great news for anyone looking to replace their sugary pancakes and waffles with an extra helping of sausage and eggs.

Even better is the news that the department of health has finally gotten on board with “moderate” (up to 5 cups a day) coffee consumption. Citing a growing body of research indicating that coffee can help prevent everything from diabetes to cancer, the new guidelines say that coffee can be part of a “healthy lifestyle.” Although research indicates that, unsurprisingly, genetics play a strong role in the effects of coffee on the body, the report still acknowledges the many benefits available from your morning cup of joe. Just remember to hold the sugar with that.

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