FDA Sends Final Menu Labeling Rules To White House

After three years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has forwarded final rules relating to menu labeling to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Now that the White House has the final version, the 90-day review process before implementation begins.

The regulations, which were required by the Affordable Care Act, mandate that chain restaurants with more than 20 locations and vending machines display calorie counts on menu items. The agency has yet to clarify what changes, if any, have been made to the final rules. However, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg informed Congress at a House appropriations agriculture subcommittee panel last week that she tried to balance a consumer’s need for information with a restaurant’s need to do business. “We’ve been working on the menu labeling rule for a long time and have gotten lots of feedback and input from all the various stakeholders,” she said. “We have been trying very hard to find a system that is meaningful for public health but truly implementable and economically viable.”

Some representatives and U.S. Senators have filed legislation that would define a regulated facility as one in which more than 50 percent of its revenues are derived from restaurant-type food.

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Mass. House Defines Its Minimum Wage Bill

The Mass. House of Representatives passed its version of legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 by July 2016. The House proposal seeks to increase the state’s minimum wage from $8 per hour to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014; from $9 per hour to $10 per hour on July 1, 2015; and to $10.50/hour on July 1, 2016, with no indexing of future increases.

The Senate, which had already passed its version of a minimum wage increase last November, sought to raise the $8 per hour minimum to $9 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2014; to $10 per hour Jan. 1, 2015; and to $11 per hour Jan. 1, 2016, with indexing of future increases tied to inflation.

Also, an initiative petition working its way towards the Nov. 4 election ballot would increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $10.50/hour on Jan. 1, 2016, with indexing of future increases tied to inflation.

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NYC Bill Would Have Food Inspectors Using Cameras In Some Inspections

A bill is expected to be filed in the New York City Council that would require health inspectors to wear a camera on some inspections. A one-year pilot program would require 10 percent of inspections to include video footage. Filed by Councilman Vincent Ignizio, the bill is meant to level the playing field for restaurateurs, many of whom feel they have little power to challenge a health inspection report.

The video footage, under Mr. Ignizio’s bill, would not be available to the public, only to the restaurant operator, the health department and the court.

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Latest Word in Food Service...

A special food-borne illness investigation training session will be held at the Mass. Restaurant Assn. (MRA) offices on April 22 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., involving the National Environmental Health Association and the federal Food & Drug Administration. The course is titled “Industry Food-Borne Illness Investigations and Food Recalls Training.” Food service directors from Dunkin’ Donuts, Legal Seafoods, Hannaford, Wegmans, Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Foxwoods and some smaller establishments as well as state and local inspectors are expected to attend. Cindy Rice, food safety expert and one of the training presenters, said the seminar should help food establishments be prepared for an outbreak investigation or recall.

• The Rhode Island Hospitality Assn. is hosting a hospitality and tourism job fair on May 14 at the Roger Williams Park Casino from 1 to 3 p.m.

• The Horizon Beverage Trade Show will be held Tuesday, April 29, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, N.H.

• Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, recently announced two executive promotions: Lou Beccarelli, regional vice president, Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.; and Rick Woods, vice president, Baskin-Robbins operations for the U.S. and Canada.

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