Posts Tagged ‘FDA’

Could We Be Next?

December 9, 2010

If you’ve been following the news outside of our industry lately, you’d know that the Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed putting out new and stark warning labels on cigarettes. The idea is to scare people into trying to quit.

Therefore, instead of the standard “Surgeon General’s Warning: May Cause Lung Cancer” on packages of cigarettes, we could see pictures of toe tags with the message that cigarettes can cause fatal diseases or pictures of breathing apparatus with a message talking about shortness of breath caused by the use of cigarettes.

While we understand fully the impetus to impose such dire warnings in an effort to get more and more people to quit their habits, we do wonder how long it will be before such warnings end up being slapped onto food and restaurant menus.

Calorie Counts Required

Readers in certain cities know already that they have been required to post information about calorie counts and fat content on their menus for many of their dishes. This has so far not had much impact on people’s choices.

Imagine however if our menus had to include warnings that “eating this food could lead to diabetes.” Or maybe when a Chinese restaurant includes MSG, they’ll be required to put on a label warning that it may cause adverse reactions in certain people.

These are the kinds of warnings we currently see on packs of cigarettes so it’s not a stretch to believe that such warnings could be required on our menus and or on packaged foods.

The Next Level

We don’t know if the new rules that the FDA has proposed regarding labeling with pictures will ever end up on cigarette packs. Nor are we going to take a position on the subject, knowing that some of our readers are going to be staunchly against it.  After all, many of us make our living from offering restaurants that allow smoking. However, we feel it’s important to mention this and to ask ourselves, could our industry be the next one targeted for sterner warnings?

Caffeine and Alcohol Can Be a Deadly Combination

November 15, 2010

If you’ve gotten used to serving your younger customers (and by young, we mean those in the 21-30 year old range, not the ice cream and soda pop set) Red Bull with vodka, you may soon have to rethink your plans for serving such drinks.

While alcoholic drinks mixed with caffeine tends to be a very common drink (rum and coke anyone?), new evidence has emerged that the combination can be extremely dangerous, especially for younger drinkers.

Caffeine Masks the Effects of Alcohol

The biggest problem with serving caffeine together with alcohol, doctors say, is that the caffeine has the effect of masking the effects of the alcohol. This makes it difficult for people to gauge just how drunk they actually are and they tend to over drink, potentially leading to serious problems.

Four Loko Especially Considered Dangerous

A fruit flavored drink called Four Loko, according to a recent report in the New York Times is considered to be particularly dangerous because it combines 12 percent alcohol with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.

A number of students from Ramapo College in New Jersey and another school, Central Washington University in Florida recently found themselves in emergency rooms after drinking the Four Loko drink.

State Attorney Generals Investigating

Eighteen attorneys general from various states have petitioned the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to investigate and to declare the drinks unsafe. Until now the FDA, while not approving of the mixture, has not done anything to stop it from being served.

Some states are also looking into passing laws specifically with the intention of banning the sale of such drink mixtures, though no such laws have as yet been passed.

Consider Non-Caffeinated Drinks

We are suggesting that restaurateurs with alcohol licenses consider offering non caffeinated alternatives to the caffeine drinks they have traditionally offered as a standard item and offer to substitute the more traditional drinks only on request from patrons. This way, you are protected from potential liabilities should one of your patrons get sick.

Pork Under Fire

October 18, 2010

Pork prices may start seeing a steady rise as new rules begin to go into effect that require less use of antibiotics on healthy animals. The practice, which has been routine for a very long time has been effective at keeping food prices down because animals stayed healthy and didn’t have to be destroyed before they could be slaughtered for food.

Superbugs Evolve

The problem however is that bacteria are pretty smart for bugs. They don’t just roll over and die. Instead, they mutate and become new strains of bugs which leads to the creation of what are known as “superbugs.”

Superbugs are bacteria that cannot be killed by any known method or which only respond to the harshest of medicines, medicines which may have nasty side effects when humans have to take them to ward off powerful infections.

New Guidelines Set to Be Published

The Food and Drug Administration has declared that they are considering changing their guidelines.  They will recommend dropping the widespread use of the medications in healthy animal populations, given the chance that the practice could lead to a human health crisis.

While the guidelines from the guidelines are voluntary, however, some pork producers are expecting that they may affect the price of meat and especially of pork, which can be prone to infection after the piglets are weaned from their mothers.

Stricter Regulation Demanded

However, many influential groups, including the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America are saying that the new guidelines are not good enough and are calling on Congress to pass a law forbidding the widespread use of the antibiotics in meat production.

Should such a bill pass, it could have an adverse affect on restaurateurs whose repertoire relies heavily on such products. Animal sickness could easily cause a shortage of some kinds of meat and cause prices to rise, farmers warn.

Specific Form of Antibiotics Targeted

Currently, the controversy revolves around a specific form of antibiotics which have been shown to help piglets grow faster, thus providing more and cheaper meat for American restaurants and homes. However, other forms of antibiotics may be targeted in the future, causing potential price spikes for those who serve pork related products in their establishments.