Good News for Soda Tax Advocates

pouring-sugar-out-of-soda-can.jpgA recent study on the soda tax in Berkeley, the first in the nation, brings good news for advocates of such taxes nationwide. Since January (when the tax went into effect), the city has apparently seen a one-fifth decline in sugary drink consumption.

The study, done by researchers at UC Berkeley, compared soda sales from April through July of 2014 with January through May of 2015 and found a 21% reduction in low-income neighborhoods. Since such neighborhoods are more likely to suffer from the health consequences of sweetened drinks, this is great news for tax advocates. The researchers do concede that there are flaws to such a study and it may be unwise to base too many policy decisions off their work. Soda consumption has already been on the decline, and the public battle between big soda and politicians may have had as much of an effect as the tax itself by raising awareness of soda’s health consequences.

To read more, click here.

A Pioneering Global Standard to Reduce Food Waste

Pilot-scheme-shows-promise-in-repurposing-commercial-food-wastes.jpgThe issue of food waste is something of a hot topic these days, from proposed regulations overseas  to the ugly-food movement and the startups it has already spawned. This attention is well deserved. Besides the tragedy of waste in a world where 800 million still go hungry, wasted food also produces 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and costs $940 billion worldwide every year.

The micro-movements that have sprung up on this front are important, but they face some major hurdles, even as more governments and large organizations commit to joining the cause. Most notably, food waste is extremely difficult to track and report on. Since it occurs all along the supply chain, and often across borders, the costs associated with this waste are typically baked into other operational costs and nearly impossible to quantify. Until now, there has been no consistent reporting standard on the issue.

To address this, a partnership of international organizations convened  at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit in Copenhagen to come up with the first-ever set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently measure and report their food waste. Such standards will be crucial to measure the success of all these organizations as they make commitments to improve. Many major international organizations, including the UN, Consumer Goods Forum, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, are already behind the coalition’s Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Standard). 

The new standard will have the greatest impact on large corporations and governments, but food waste is a costly issue for all retail and restaurant businesses as well. We recommend following the lead set at the 3GF Summit, and making a commitment to tackle waste on a small scale as well.

To read more, click here.

Philly Paves the Way For Diet-Soda Taxes

In less than a week, Philadelphia will vote on a new tax on sodas which they are all but certain to pass. The tax will add 1.5 cents to every ounce of soda sold – an amount which adds up quickly on larger bottles and value-packs. The measure will make Philly the first large city to tax soda (Berkeley being the only other city in the U.S. to pass a similar law), as well as the first city to extend taxes to diet sodas. While the original proposal taxed only drinks with added sugar at 3 cents an ounce, critics argued this was too steep and disproportionately affected those with lower-incomes. The city council then amended the measure to tax all sodas at a lower rate, since upper- and middle-income consumers are more likely to reach for the diet soda.

Big Soda is already suffering from tanking sales and bad PR, so this move has understandably put them on the defensive. In the weeks leading up to the vote, soda companies have poured millions into ad campaigns against the tax, and the city has responded with some of their own. The council can also expect some litigation once they vote, since the industry is not likely to go down without a fight.

To read more, click here.

Pregnant New Yorkers Not to be Refused

Pregnant women in New York City are now legally entitled to purchase an alcoholic beverage, regardless of how it makes the bartender or patrons feel.  New guidelines based on the city’s Human Rights Law now say that refusing to serve a pregnant woman is discriminatory, and restaurants and bars are explicitly prohibited from refusing mothers-to-be.

Specifically, “While covered entities may attempt to justify certain categorical exclusions based on maternal or fetal safety, using safety as a pretext for discrimination or as a way to reinforce traditional gender norms or stereotypes is unlawful,” said the Commission on Human Rights.

Multiple medical associations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Surgeon General’s Office discourage any alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  And currently, restaurants and bars are required to post signs warning the dangers of alcohol to fetuses.  This new law now has foodservice establishments “stuck in the middle on this one,” noted Robert Bookman, a lawyer with the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

The new law also covers foods such as raw fish and soft cheese.  To read more, click here.

Bare-Handed Food Contact in California is Prohibited

A new section (113961) of the California Retail Food Code bans restaurant workers in California from handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands. The code went into effect Jan. 1, however health officials have implemented a soft rollout for the initial six months in consideration of operators who would likely be unprepared to handle the sudden changes. The rules apply to any ready-to-eat food that will not be cooked or reheated, including sushi, bread, baked goods, salads and garnishes like parsley, lemon wedges and pickles. Foodservice employees must still wash hands with soap and warm water thoroughly before prepping food, putting on clean gloves and between glove changes.

The new law states:

(a) Food employees shall wash their hands in accordance with the provisions established in Section 113953.3.

(b) Except when washing fruits and vegetables, as specified in Section 113992 or as specified in subdivisions (e) and (f), food employees shall not contact exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and shall use suitable utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, single-use gloves, or dispensing equipment.


Charging for Bags on the Docket for NYC

A bill was unveiled this week by NYC lawmakers to impose a ten cent charge on grocery bags in New York City that businesses give customers, eliciting immediate opposition from some business owners, politicians, and many citizens.

The bill is favored by environmental groups looking to reduce the 100,000 tons of plastic bags that the city sends to landfills each year, following the paths of cities such as Los Angeles, Washington, and San Francisco.

The story has been widely covered this week:

The Gothamist runs with great City Hall photos.

Crain’s New York

The Daily News

NBC New York


NYC Hospitality Alliance Event on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 9:30-11:30am

Seminar with the NYC Hospitality Alliance

Balancing Employee Relations, Payroll & the Law

 Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 9:30-11:30am

Where: NY Institute of Technology | 16 West 61st Street, 11th Floor (Map)

Cost: $20 member          $35 non-member  

Register Here

In today’s competitive and highly regulated business environment, it’s important for restaurants, hotels and nightlife venues to create a positive work environment for employees while complying with the various federal, state and city labor laws.

You do not want to miss this unique opportunity to hear industry leaders answer questions such as: 

  • How do you retain your best employees?
  • How can you protect your business against potential lawsuits filed by employees?
  • What are the best resources for finding and attracting qualified employees?
  • Wage & Hour, Immigration, Paid Sick leave AND much more!!!

Learn the in-and-outs of balancing employee relations, payroll & the law by joining The Alliance for an in-depth and interactive panel discussion with experts from the NYC hospitality industry.

Moderator: Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance

  • Angie Buonpane, Director of Human Resources, Union Square Hospitality Group
  • Michael Busch, President, Valiant Restaurant Division
  • Carolyn D. Richmond, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP