MN Hospitality Advocate

Association Designs Allergen Poster

Posted in City Council, General Advocacy, Health Care Reform, Restaurant Issues by hospitalityminnesota on December 20, 2009

After months of negotiations, the St. Paul City Council passed a food allergy ordinance requiring every foodservice establishment in the city to display a poster regarding allergens. The Minnesota Restaurant Association and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a coalition that negotiated throughout the process on behalf of the industry. After pushing back an Allergen Information Handbook and an Allergen Action Plan, we agreed on a poster as long as we could have substantial say as to its content. The ordinance as passed called for the poster to be determined by the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections.

WE DESIGNED THE POSTER
Because of our extensive involvement in the process, we ultimately designed the poster in cooperation with the Association of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Minnesota and the St. Paul Area Chamber. Through these efforts, the poster enhances awareness of the most common allergens and cross-contact, but does not increase restaurant liability.

While we modeled the poster on one developed by the national organization Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and a flier created by the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (AFAA), we worked with AFAA to remove imperative language that we felt would increase restaurant liability. The poster now includes pictures of the eight major U.S. allergens and common items (cutting boards, utensils, etc.) that can cause cross-contact with allergens.  It is available for free download here.

GREAT PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPED
Once we gained the support of the council to create the poster, the process was swift and was absent of contention, since all parties agreed to the poster’s content. This was in contrast to earlier stages of the political process when we had concerns about poster language that could be construed to increase liability for restaurants.

“Thanks to the work of AFAA, we were able to show how seemingly at-odds organizations can work together on a solution that meets everyone’s needs,” said Molly Grove of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.  “Everyone came to the table ready to solve the problem, making this a very good experience for us all.”

VOLUNTARY ORDINANCE ALSO PASSED
The second ordinance, which passed 5-1 provides a 7% license fee discount for restaurants that view a training video provided by the City, and develop in-house procedures when an allergic customer orders food. Although we did not oppose this ordinance, we indicated that few restaurants would engage and wanted to go on record with concerns that the voluntary program could some day become mandatory.

INDUSTRY EFFORT UNDER WAY
We agreed during the process that allergens are a serious issue in the industry (the new FDA model food code just released in early November has a great deal more about allergens and more inclusion in the Certified Food Manager curriculum is anticipated). We also suggested that we would most support a voluntary effort to educate the industry on the issue. While we did eventually agree to this limited poster mandate, we also remain committed to voluntary efforts to raise the level of awareness in the industry.

Our plan now is to make this poster available to restaurants across the state through our publications and communications and the many entities we work with, such as Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Health Departments, Chambers of Commerce, AFAA and foodservice distributors. In addition, we will be talking to food safety instructors about incorporating the poster and information in their Certified Food Manager training and re-certification training.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations

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Legislative Agenda – We Play Defense

Posted in Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, Restaurant Issues, State Laws, Tourism Issues, Uncategorized by hospitalityminnesota on October 26, 2009

With the state facing a projected $7 billion budget deficit, and the DFL party handily in control of both the House and Senate, it’s likely that most business groups will be playing defense this coming legislative session.

While we would like to achieve a sales tax exemption on capital equipment, or employee meals, for example, it’s highly unlikely given that the state has no money.

We’ll be firming up this legislative agenda in the next several weeks as we prepare for our new session in February. The Minnesota Restaurant Association has gathered feedback through a series of regional meetings and will be conducting a legislative survey of members shortly.

The Minnesota Lodging Association has been working closely with the Minnesota Association of CVBs on lodging tax issues, which appear to be its key issue in the session ahead.

The Minnesota Resort and Campground Association is looking at issues such as vacation home rentals, shoreland management, school levies and property tax rates.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations

Associations Provide 2009-10 Annual Law Review

Posted in General Advocacy, Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, Restaurant Issues, State Laws, State Rules by hospitalityminnesota on September 7, 2009

Wow, the 2009-2010 Annual Law Review is now complete and has been sent to all Association members. This 148-page reference is the bible of laws and regulations affecting Minnesota’s hospitality industry. Topics covered include:

  • OSHA requirements
  • Minimum wage and tip credit
  • Proper employee termination
  • Lodging tax law
  • Health laws and codes
  • Sales tax fact sheets
  • State versus Federal statutes
  • Overtime
  • Much more

As a hospitality operator, this review can literally save you thousands of dollars in fines and headaches. There is no more comprehensive overview of both the federal and state laws that impact you every day.

You can access the law review with your member login. If you can’t remember your login, please contact Carrie Burinda at (651) 925-4016.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Assocations