FDA to extend tobacco regulations to e-cigarettes, other products (Excerpt) 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:03:00 PM

 Source: CNN

By Jen Christensen

May 5, 2016


E-cigarettes and other tobacco products like premium cigars and hookahs will be regulated in the same way the government regulates traditional cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.


Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, made the announcement about their final rule Thursday.


The rule broadens the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, hookahs, pipe tobacco, premium cigars, little cigars and other products.


"This action is a milestone in consumer protection -- going forward, the FDA will be able to review new tobacco products not yet on the market, help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers, evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made, and communicate the potential risks of tobacco products," the agency said in announcing the extension of its authority.


The new rule will not go into effect immediately, since companies will need time to comply.

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FDA releases final menu labeling guidance 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:01:00 PM

Latest release highly anticipated as final step to implementing menu labeling regulations

 Source: NRN

Anita Jones-Mueller

May 3, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released late last week its final guidance on menu labeling.

 Designed to offer clarity and guidance on previously released menu labeling regulations, the latest document has been highly anticipated as the final step to implementing those regulations. 

 Earlier this year, the FDA said that enforcement of menu labeling regulations would be delayed until one year after issuance of the final guidance document. The announcement last week further specified that the compliance clock would begin counting down from the date that the Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register. The NOA for the guidance is expected to be published in early May 2016. 

 According to last week's announcement, the final guidance on menu labeling "responds to many frequently asked questions that the agency has received to date. It differs from the draft guidance by providing additional examples and new or revised questions and answers on topics such as covered establishments, alcoholic beverages, catered events, mobile vendors, grab-and-go items, and record keeping requirements."

 Some restaurants have already moved forward with menu analysis, and even posting of calories. Many more will now need to work closely with nutrition experts to ensure their locations are in compliance prior to the May 2017 deadline. 

 As part of its announcement on Friday, the FDA reassured covered establishments that it "is committed to working flexibly and cooperatively with establishments covered by the menu labeling final rule and to providing educational and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal regulatory partners to support consistent compliance nationwide." 

 As part of this promise, the FDA has committed to offering webinars and menu labeling workshops to help restaurants and other businesses comply.

 Covered establishments not already working with an expert in menu labeling can also send questions on menu labeling requirements directly to

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May is Tavern Month...Let's Celebrate! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 3:59:00 PM

Raise a glass to the places that sustain America's rich tradition of hospitality

Source: ABL

April 29, 2016


America's beer, wine and spirits retailers are encouraging their customers, colleagues and communities to join them this May in celebration of National Tavern Month.  Since 1953, Tavern Month has served as an opportunity to support local hospitality businesses, promote the responsible service and enjoyment of beverage alcohol, and educate everyone about the economic engine formed by the tens of thousands of on-premise beverage licensees throughout the United States.


"Every day across the country, American bars and taverns provide food, drink and hospitality to millions of customers in diverse settings and with more beer, wine and spirits options than ever before," said John Bodnovich, Executive Director of American Beverage Licensees (ABL). "They're providing unmatched product choice and service while contributing significantly to their national, state and local economies in the form of jobs created, taxes paid and overall economic impact."


Direct retail alcohol sales in on-premise, licensed establishments account for as many as 1.23 million jobs; $31.7 billion in wages and benefits; and more than $76 billion in economic output according to the 2014 Economic Impact Study of America's Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers.  When including all sales by on-premise, full-service restaurants and drinking places, those numbers climb to 3.94 million jobs; $96.8 billion in wages and benefits; and over $241 billion in economic impact.


For hundreds of years, taverns have worked in their communities - large and small - to provide the best is hospitality and beverage service.  Since the repeal of Prohibition, on-premise licensees have flourished under the three-tier system that has allowed them to focus on customer service and satisfaction, while also working with supplier and distributor partners to create an unsurpassed chain of product accountability and quality that is the envy of countries around the world.


Bars and taverns are proving grounds for new cocktails, beer styles and wines, forums for political debate, bastions for like-minded sports fans and otherwise meeting places for business and pleasure. Bar and tavern owners continue to place a strong emphasis on responsible service by training employees and incorporating programs to promote responsibility.  By utilizing technology and working with enforcement and regulatory groups, licensees are doing their part to continue a tradition of responsibility. 


The growth of technology and changing lifestyles mean that hospitality businesses are always adapting to meet the needs of modern customers and their evolving tastes.  In addition to constantly evaluating their business models, many bar and tavern owners must also navigate an opaque music licensing marketplace. They continue to call for an improved music licensing ecosystem that will make rights ownership information, licensing fee distribution and billing practices more transparent.


This May, join ABL in embracing the historic and modern roles of the American tavern, the people who work hard to keep the doors of their businesses open and the good jobs they provide their communities. Celebrate Tavern Month this May by raising a glass to the American tavern - the friendliest place in town!

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Southern Illinois University adds major in brewing amid craft beer boom  

Thursday, May 12, 2016 4:39:00 PM

 (Richard Sitler / AP)

Tribune news services Contact Reporter

An Illinois university has a new accredited degree in fermentation science to train future brewers, distillers and vintners.

The state Board of Higher Education approved Southern Illinois University's new Bachelor of Science degree in March, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

Matt McCarroll, director of the Fermentation Science Institute at the university, said rapid growth in craft brewing has led to demand for trained fermentation scientists and coursework focused on brewing science. While fewer than 100 breweries existed in the U.S. in the mid-1970s, there are more than 4,000 today, he told the newspaper.

Graduates will be able to work at several micro-breweries in the region and along the area's Shawnee Wine Trail.

Students will start in the major in the summer, McCarroll said.

"We know this is a growth industry and our students will be well prepared to gain employment in this field," he said.

Fermentation science involves chemistry, plant biology, microbiology and agricultural sciences. McCarroll said programs similar to the one at Southern Illinois University are concentrated on the West Coast.

A 74,000 square-foot, geo-thermal building called the McLafferty Annex Collaborative Research Facility on the campus's west side will be home to the program.

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Millennials ramp up restaurant spending 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:53:00 AM

 Full-service operators can find plenty to love, including increased spending by millennials, in the first round of data covering 2016 restaurant performance.


Source: RH

Bob Krummert

Apr 11, 2016


Consumer spending on restaurants is up, thanks in part to strong growth in the job market, especially for millennials.


Menu prices up. Food costs down. Millennials dining out as frequently as marketers have always hoped. Full-service operators can find plenty to love in the first round of data that describes how restaurants have done so far in 2016. Even better: Lower fuel prices and solid job growth figures should help these trends remain in place throughout the year.


Some of the best news comes courtesy of the National Restaurant Association. It cites U.S. Census Bureau figures that show eating and drinking places sales rose in February 2016 ($53.7 billion versus $53.2 billion in January). "The solid gain in restaurant sales outpaced the sluggish performance in overall retail, as consumers remain generally cautious in their spending habits," NRA notes.


Margins on these sales were likely higher, too. That's because Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that menu prices increased 2.6 percent in the 12-month period ending February 2016, even though retail grocery prices were lower, down 0.3 during that same time. Factor in a 1.0 percent overall inflation rate and you're left with 1.6 percent real growth. The quick-service segment recorded a 2.6 percent menu price increase; full service prices were up 2.4 percent.


Restaurant food costs should have gone down just a bit, too. The BLS reports that wholesale food prices declined 0.3 percent in February 2016 and are down a total of 2.3 percent since February 2015. "Although prices for many commodities remain generally elevated in historical terms, restaurant operators are expected to continue to get relief in 2016," NRA predicts. If the current downward trend continues, it will represent the first time since the late 1990s that average wholesale food prices declined in consecutive years.


Another plus for the industry: real disposable income increased 0.3 percent in February, the third consecutive month it has risen by this amount. More money in consumers' pockets should lead to additional spending in the months ahead.


But will that money be spent at restaurants? A survey commissioned by Visa Business and Economics Insights and conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics in January 2016 found that it should. Its findings show that 22 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) are now dining out more frequently than they did in the previous year. Thirteen percent of Gen X survey respondents (ages 35-54) also increased their restaurant spending, as did seven percent of baby boomers (55 and older).


What's driving these welcome developments?


"Consumer spending on restaurants has accelerated in recent years, thanks in part to strong growth in the job market, especially for millennials, and sustained lower gas prices," according to Visa Business and Economic Insights analysis and the Visa Retail Spending Monitor (RSM).


Job growth-2015 saw the strongest year-over-year increase since 2000, Visa says-should remain "solid" this year. Lower gas prices should also continue to leave consumers with more money to spend on restaurant meals.


"Restaurant spending increased around the same time that gas prices plummeted, freeing up funds for discretionary spending," the Visa survey found. "Restaurant credit spending growth began to accelerate in early 2014, with lower-income households (those earning less than $50,000 per year) leading the way-the consumer group benefitting most from the lower gas prices."


It's not a perfect storm of positive factors for restaurants. But it's a positive scenario whose two key factors-job growth, low gas prices-should stay steady through the end of the year. Visa is calling for restaurant spending to remain "strong" in 2016. Let's hope this prediction comes true.

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FDA E-Cig ‘Deeming’ Rule Imminent 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:50:00 AM

Tobacco industry expecting final rule this month

 WASHINGTON -- Tobacco industry and anti-tobacco groups are expecting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) this month to release its long-awaited final rule “deeming” whether it can regulate cigars and electronic cigarettes, according to a report by The Hill.

While FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum told the newspaper that he did not have any update to share on the timing of the deeming rule’s release, most industry observers believe a final rule is imminent.

“The proposed rule came out in April 2014, and last spring they said they would be done by summer,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told the Hill. “Then last June, they said they’d be done by the end of the summer. I guess they never said which year.”

Myers said the delays in releasing the final rule have damaged the agency’s credibility.

The delay has prompted speculation on what could be holding up the rule.

Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA), believes the agency is hung up on one provision--a mandate that requires any nicotine delivery devices that hit stores after Feb. 15, 2007, to apply retroactively for approval, the Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) process.

Story argues that provision alone will wipe out the e-cigarette industry, which didn’t take off until after 2007.

The FDA has said it does not have the authority to alter or amend that date, set by statute in the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act signed into law by President Obama in 2009.

Story said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is working on legislation to change the date. Duncan’s chief of staff Joe Kasper dismissed the FDA’s claims that the agency’s hands are tied by statute, calling the argument “bunk.”

The legislation is intended to ensure e-cigarettes are not regulated like traditional tobacco products.

“Vaping is not the same as smoking traditional tobacco, and it shouldn’t be treated that way,” Kasper said. “Vaping is really a proxy war for anti-tobacco forces, and there’s nothing they want more than to continue associating vaping with regular tobacco.”

In a separate statement, another group, the Vapor Technology Association (VTA), said, “The FDA’s U.S. regulatory policy … will only serve to eliminate products that have high acceptance among adult cigarette smokers, and ultimately harm the broader public health goal of deterring tobacco use.”

“Despite an overabundance of distorted and misleading information propagated by some in the public health community, the science is clear--responsibly manufactured vapor products are not only a safer alternative to traditional combustible products, but also provide smokers with a viable path to reducing their tobacco consumption and quitting altogether,” said Tony Abboud, VTA’s national legislative director. “The FDA’s actions will not improve our nation’s public health objectives. To the contrary, they will yank responsibly manufactured vapor products from the hands of adult smokers and replace them with the cigarettes they had been trying to give up.”

“Moreover, by simply dumping vapor technology products into an already antiquated federal regulatory scheme, the FDA will, in one stroke, wipe out nearly a decade of widespread consumer acceptance of these products. At the same time, the FDA will kill nearly a decade of innovation in the vapor technology industry and the many thousands of small and mid-size businesses in communities across this country who have invested in establishing retail stores and developing new technologies. … If enforced as drafted, the unreasonable and excessive regulations proposed by the FDA will only serve to put these innovators out of business, their employees out of work, and will hand deliver Big Tobacco a monopoly on vapor products.”

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Retailers Drag Feet on EMV 

Monday, April 11, 2016 5:03:00 PM

April 4, 2016

Published in CSP Daily News

 WASHINGTON -- Despite having to assume responsibility for fraudulent card purchases, 42% of retailers still have to upgrade their in-store point-of-sale (POS) terminals to be compliant with Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) security standards, according to a recent study.

The report included all types of merchants from big box to convenience stores, but researchers for Washington, D.C.-based CardHub say the sluggish retail reaction to the credit-card companies’ firm stance on EMV is surprising.

“The retailer response … has been shockingly muted … which is problematic considering merchants that do not implement EMV-compliant payment terminals are now liable for fraudulent purchases made in their stores,” officials with CardHub said in the report. “And the roughly $8 billion in fraudulent card purchases made in the U.S. each year certainly represents a mountain of risk for resistant retailers.”

The major credit cards set a liability shift date of Oct. 1, 2015, for in-store POS and Oct. 1, 2017, for in-pump POS if card fraud occurs at sites not equipped to accept EMV “chip” cards.

For convenience stores, the hurdle has been with in-store POS registers that are tailored to forecourt environments. Providers all along the digital-payment path are working to make transaction times fast and ensure the hardware and connections work consistently.

“We run into trouble where there’s integration into the POS,” Gray Taylor, executive director for Conexxus, Alexandria, Va., told CSP Daily News. “Everyone is feeling their way through it.”

7-Eleven was one of 50 large retail chains reviewed in detail. CardHub noted that while the Dallas-based chain did not respond to requests for its EMV plan or implementation status, researchers sampled random stores and found none of them were implementing EMV as of March.

The research also surveyed consumers, with 41% saying they don’t have or don’t know they have a smart-chip card, and 56% said they don’t care if their retailer’s payment terminal is chip-enabled.

About 40% said they had never used a chip-based card to make a payment, while 40% said they received a chip card in the past six months.

In conducting this report, CardHub surveyed a representative sample of the general consumer population as well as a diverse selection of retailers about chip-based cards and EMV security.

To gauge the sentiment of the general population, they conducted a nationally representative online survey of 1,000 individuals between Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 on SurveyMonkey’s online platform. After all responses were collected, researchers normalized the data by age, gender and income so the panel would reflect U.S. demographics for income-earning adults. Survey results have a 3.2% margin of error.

For the retailer component, CardHub chose to include 50 large chains as well as five smaller merchants, each of which has experienced a data breach in the past. They first called 15 stores from each retailer between Feb. 16 and March 9 and asked about their chip-card acceptance capabilities. In selecting the stores, CardHub chose the three largest metropolitan areas in each region: West (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle); Midwest (Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis); Northeast (New York, Philadelphia, Boston); Southwest (Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, N.M.); Southeast (Washington, D.C.; Miami; Atlanta) and contacted one store within 20 miles of each metro area. If no stores were located in a given metro area, the next largest was chosen.

Researchers then attempted to confirm the information they collected with each retailer. All responses were subsequently incorporated into its findings.

For retailers that chose not to respond to requests, the company used the data initially collected. The list of retailers that refused to collaborate or did not respond to multiple attempts to verify information included Costco, McDonald’s, Ahold USA/Royal Ahold, TJX, Kohl’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Meijer, Wakefern/Shoprite, Subway, J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven, Aldi, Ace Hardware, Ross Stores, Starbucks, Bath & Body Works, Bi-Lo, Wendy’s, Menards, Staples, Burger King, Trader Joe’s, BeBe, Jimmy John’s and Victoria’s Secret.

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Bacardi bans straws 

Monday, April 11, 2016 5:01:00 PM

Source: TheShout

By Stefanie Collins



As part of its ongoing "Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future" environmental campaign, Bacardi's global office has launched an in-house initiative to remove straws and stirrers in cocktails at company events.


Starting in its North America regional headquarters and its Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill, Bacardi has teamed up with other eco-conscious hotels, restaurants and bars in this new initiative.


According to a statement, the company says: "As straws and stirrers are among the most collected pieces of trash in our oceans, coupled with the 10 litres of water used to produce one bottle of a premium spirit, the company knows water is a critical resource for all its brands and local communities".


Ian McLaren, director of trade advocacy for Bacardi, is encouraging all offices within the Bacardi global infrastructure to adopt the same strategy.


"Plastic straws don't biodegrade, and their use is ubiquitous across many industries including the spirits market. We are resolved to be part of the solution, and this includes reducing the amount of waste we produce," McLaren says.


According to environmental organisation The Last Plastic Straw, if one was to line up the 500-million straws used and discarded each day in the US alone, the giant straw created would be able to wrap around the equator two-and-a-half times. In fact, it would be the same as jamming 125 bright yellow US school buses full of straws everyday - that's 46,400 school bus straw monsters a year.


So with that in mind, Bacardi says it is urging everyone to add, "No straw, please," to their drink order.


By using metal stirrers and foregoing straws, Bacardi says that it expects to save 12,000 straws and stirrers from landfills annually just from its in-house happy hours alone. And with more than 80,000 consumers estimated to visit Laverstoke Mill in 2016, no straws will make a difference as 14,000 cocktails are poured there each month.


"For many, awareness begins with alarming facts or watching a viral video of a sea turtle with a straw lodged in its nose," adds McLaren. "We are making changes now to carry us all through to the future, sustainably."


For some horrifying stats, try these:


Research indicates that the ocean is filled with about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris, and about 269,000 tonnes float on the surface, polluting shorelines.

About four billion plastic microfibres per square kilometre litter the deep sea.

In the middle of the Pacific, in the deepest parts, there is a garbage patch roughly the size of Texas.

The no straw movement is the latest environmental program implemented by Bacardi since 2006. In that time it has improved water use efficiency by 46 per cent and reduced greenhouse gas intensity ratio by nearly 45 per cent.

Additionally, the company has a goal to obtain 40 per cent of the sugarcane-derived products used to make its rum from certified, sustainable sources by 2017, and 100 per cent by 2022.

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Retail group pushes Fed to lower cap on debit card swipe fees 

Monday, April 11, 2016 4:59:00 PM

By Lydia Wheeler - 03/25/16 11:34 AM EDT

The nation’s leading retail trade group is pushing the Federal Reserve to lower the amount banks charge merchants for debit card transactions.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said the cap set five years ago under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law is too high.

Though the Fed had proposed a cap no higher than 12 cents, the NRF said banks were able to successfully lobby for 21 cents plus 0.05 percent of the transaction for fraud recovery and another 1 cent for fraud prevention in most cases, which works out to about 24 cents per transaction.

In a letter this week, NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan asked the Federal Reserve for a lower cap when it is reviewed this spring.

Though Duncan admits both merchants and consumers have realized savings as result of the regulation, since the average was 45 cents before the cap, she said 24 cents is still substantially higher than issuers’ incremental costs.

As a result of the high fees, she said, the average net profit for retail varies from slightly over 1 percent for the grocery sector to slightly under 4 percent for high-end specialty stores.

Now, with banks shifting more fraud liability to merchants, Duncan argues that tacking on the additional 0.05 percent for fraud recovery might no longer be needed.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rivers Cuomo Sue Wicker Park’s Piece Pizzeria 

Monday, April 11, 2016 3:37:00 PM

February 17, 2016 7:11 PM

(STMW) — Piece, the Wicker Park pizzeria and brewery, is being sued by BMI, Sony, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, who all claim copyright infringement.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, names Piece and its owner, Bill Jacobs, as defendants.

The plaintiffs allege that Jacobs and Piece “publicly performed and/or caused to be publicly performed at the establishment the musical composition[s] … without a license or permission to do so. Thus, defendants have committed copyright infringement.”

Three alleged performances — all of which were said to have occurred on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015 — were singled out in the complaint; “Crazy” by Willie Nelson; “Give It Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers; and “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer.

The complaint did not specify the circumstances of the alleged performances and BMI’s attorney referred questions to the company’s press office, which did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

On its website, Piece advertises live band karaoke that is held every Saturday at 11 p.m. Patrons are allowed to pick songs to sing that a guitarist, drummer and bass player provide the backing music to.

BMI alleges that, since May 2014, it has reached out to Jacobs and Piece more than 70 times by phone, in person, mail and email “to inform Defendants of their obligations under the Copyright Act to obtain a license for the public performance of musical compositions in the BMI repertoire.”

BMI said it sent several Cease and Desist letters.

Jacobs did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

The single-count suit seeks statutory damages and an order than would bar Piece “from infringing, in any manner, the copyrighted musical compositions licensed by BMI.”

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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