Menu Labeling – What You May Not Know Could Hurt You

April 25, 2017

By Sonia Riggs, CRA President & CEO, Dan Roehl, National Restaurant Association and Craig Cheatham, CRA member

 

On May 5, 2017, federal law will require restaurants and foodservice businesses with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items to post calorie information for standard menu items and provide guests with additional nutrition information upon request. The menu-labeling requirement was part of the health care law President Obama signed into law in 2010, and since then several CRA members have expressed concerns about this new law.  We have heard from some members that the signage alone required in their businesses under this new law has cost them $10,000+.

One of your fellow CRA members requested we share the following message with our franchisee members of CRA. This is not a message endorsed by the CRA Board, but is shared with you for your information and for you to handle as you choose.

 

“We still have time to stop, delay or amend the calorie count display regulation, set to go into effect May 5. Please take the five, simple steps outlined in the attached document. Sample wording for your message to policymakers is included, so you can copy and paste for the most part. A few minutes on this critical issue may save you significant money and time in the short and long term. Also, please share these steps with your franchise headquarters for distribution across your chain as well.  We appreciate our association’s previous negotiations on our behalf, but, with the change of administration, it is worth a grassroots wave of communication to Washington by franchisees who have a real sense of the impact as the deadline nears. To limit the current calorie display requirement to just a nutritional sheet at the counter and on your website would deliver consumer benefit without imposing such onerous burdens on small business and put franchises at such a competitive disadvantage. Please take a few minutes to follow the instructions on the link to give this effort a chance for success, especially while the window of opportunity for changes like this is open as both sides of the aisle cut various deals to come to an agreement to avoid a government shutdown.  — Thank you, Craig Cheatham — Marco’s Pizza (Colorado Springs)”

 

But why would NRA be supportive of these new requirements?  It seems counterintuitive to the work that we do to protect restaurants.  Here’s some history according to the NRA:

  • In 2006, New York became the first city, county or state to mandate menu labeling.  Not surprisingly, you have seen this acutely on the labor side, other state and local governments began to adopt the concept once it was passed by NY.
  • Before long, it was in at least 5 states (Maine, Oregon, California, Vermont, and New Jersey), several counties (4 in New York state, Montgomery County, MD and King County (Seattle)) and cities like Philadelphia.  While each was conceptually the same they were all different in some way.  This was very challenging for multi-state operators who were forced to often design and get approved menu/ menu boards specific to small geographic areas.
  • Back around 2009, the spread of menu labeling was rampant.  There were bills being introduced at all levels of government – and it wasn’t just in “blue” states or cities. Additionally, the advocates were moving to require more information on the menu.  What started with just calories was evolving into calories plus sodium, fat, trans fat etc.  This was the Philadelphia model and it was being embraced by the advocate community.
  • Fighting back wasn’t easy.  Menu labeling polls in the high 70s.  The multi state operators needed a solution and, frankly, they followed what the packaged food industry did in the early 1990s but seeking a national solution that preempted the states.
  • While the advocates at the time had more political power (Obama Administration, 60 Democrats in the Senate and a Democratic House), NRA also had some good relationships with Democrats and in the end were able to secure an agreement that was very favorable to the industry.  They were able to:
  • Get national pre-emption over state and local menu labeling laws. The advocates wanted a federal floor not a ceiling.
  • Limit information on the menu to just calories. The advocates wanted 4 items plus the ability of states to add additional ones.
  • Add legal protections for providing the information. NRA is not aware of any state or local laws that provided legal protections for the fact that restaurant food is hand prepared and as a result there was going to be greater variability than packaged food.
  • Small business protection – the law only applied to chains with 20 or more locations nationwide.  There is a voluntary program for chains if they choose to provide the information.

 

Within the last week, there has been more activity.  Grocery and Convenience stores are again trying to get exempted which NRA opposes.  They believe strongly that we need a federal standard to prevent state and local enforcement.   They have a legal opinion that says if May 5th does not happen, we could lose preemption so states could start to enforce immediately.

 

As the President & CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see menu labeling come here.  There is sentiment on both sides of the aisle on this issue.  Although our board has not yet taken a position on menu labeling, we tend to see issues that start in other states, come to Colorado eventually. We are seeing that movement happening faster and faster.

CRA Legislative Update 02/10/17

February 10, 2017

The Legislative Update is a quick explanation of bills we are actively following in the Colorado State Legislature. CRA updates this list as new bills are introduced or as the status of the listed bill’s changes.

In addition, we send out email notices and special “ALERTS” to members when we need help on issues or need you to contact certain legislators. It is extremely important that your member record at CRA contains your best contact email address. You can be sure we have it by sending your contact information to CRA at info@corestaurant.org. We promise not to share your email address with anyone. We will use it only for important CRA issues.

Read the latest Legislative Update HERE.

 

CRA Working for You 0217

February 1, 2017

By Sonia Riggs, CRA President & CEO

LOOKING FORWARD
The CRA staff are taking a strong look at our organization to make sure that we are providing value to all our members – whether you are a small, independent restaurant, or a larger restaurant group. Part of that value is making sure that you are receiving the information that we are sending your way. For example, there are several new Colorado laws that you need to be aware of that directly impact your business (explained later in the newsletter) but you may not have heard of them yet because we don’t have the most up-to-date contact information for you. You’ll likely receive a call and email from us in the coming months to make sure we have the correct contact information for you, and that we are communicating the right messages with the appropriate people within your organization. Please bear with us as we work through this process.

 

NATIONAL FIGHT ON TIP POOLING
On a national level, the National Restaurant Association, through their Restaurant Law Center is leading the effort of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case, National Restaurant Association, et al. v. U.S. Department of Labor, et all. The case challenges the Department of Labor’s anti tip-pooling stance that prevents cooks and dishwashers from receiving tips.  The Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) tip credit regulations prevent front-of-the-house restaurant employees from sharing tips with back-of-the-house employees if the employer takes a tip credit, meaning some employees earn a tip wage. However, the Department of Labor has now expanded the tip credit regulations, without Congressional action, and is refusing to allow employees to share tips even if the employer does not take a tip credit. This violates the clear language of the law and the intent of the law. Learn more here.

 

LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The Colorado legislative session kicked off on January 11 and we are already actively monitoring bills on a daily basis and have an update on some legislation that we are closely watching. (See the Legislative Update attached to the Newsletter) Feel free to call us if you have any questions or would like to weigh in on an issue. Our legislative committee meets weekly and is open to all members. If you are interested in participating, please contact Nick Hoover at (303) 830-2972.

Colorado Restaurant Industry Statistics – 2017 Menu of Facts

February 1, 2017

Every year we produce The Menu of Facts, a booklet outlining the economic impact of our industry to provide to lawmakers. Distributed first at the annual Blue Ribbon Legislative Reception, this handy pocket reference acts as a great conversation starter with any lawmaker or media person interested in learning more about our industry. We are an industry made up of small businesses with a large impact. If you would like any copies of the Menu of Facts, email the CRA and we will see that you get what you need. Also find the latest industry stats on our industry statistics page at corestaurant.org.

2016 Brought Many new Regulations – Are You Compliant?

February 1, 2017

Minimum Wage Increased January 1
As of January 1, 2017, Colorado’s minimum wage is as follows: Regular Minimum Wage = $9.30 hr., Tipped Wage = $6.28. Get the scheduled rates for the next four years HERE.

Reasonable Accommodation Law for Pregnant Employees
A new law passed in 2016 requires employers with one or more employees (basically every employer in Colorado) to inform employees of their rights regarding pregnancy accommodation. As of December 8, 2016, all current employees should have received written notice of this new law, and new employees must be informed when hired. Get a sample employee letter and details on the law HERE.

New I-9 Form and Elimination of Colorado Affirmation Form
There is a revised I-9 Form, read about it HERE. As you may recall, Colorado previously required you to complete the Colorado Affirmation Form in addition to the I-9 form for each new employee. In 2016, the CRA and others worked to eliminate this redundancy, so now you only need to complete the I-9 form for your new hires.

Need Labor Law Posters? Get them free as a CRA Member!
Do you know that as a member of CRA you get free Labor Compliance posters? Email info@corestaurant.org to request your 2017 poster.