Each Friday I compile a list that highlights five things you probably missed in the news that week and why you should care about them.
Here’s your list for the week of May 1:
1. College removes nutrition labels because too many students are reading them
Dining services at the University of Montana removed nutrition labels for items in the Food Zoo dining hall because too many students were reading them and that slowed down the lines. The news comes at an interesting time as new FDA rules regarding menu labeling has once again been pushed back, to 2018 (the rule would require foodservice establishments, including restaurants and grocery stores with 20 or more locations, to provide posted nutrition information). While the nutrition info is no longer posted at the point of service, it is available online, something Dining Director Camp Howard said was a more accurate source of information because it was easier to ensure that the data is always current.
Update 5.9.2017: Howard contacted Food Management to provide additional context to this story, saying that the online nutritional information was a more accurate and easily accessible way for students. Howard wrote: "There are several reasons we decided to phase out the detailed, printed tag system. First, nutritional information for every menu item we serve is available online, and, unlike the printed tags, is assured to be up-to-date and accurate. We have learned that, for the students wanting this information, our website is the most useful. Secondly, we were informed that the printed labels tended to be confusing for some students and caused delays in the serving line while guests evaluated the information. Lastly, we feel strongly that we can provide more accurate, comprehensive information on our menu items if this data is kept current and stored in one place. Labels are more likely to be misplaced or reprinted without current information. We also struggle with accuracy when manufacturers change their formulas even slightly as we would need to reprint another tag."
2. Congress looks to tackle foodservice in omnibus spending bill
Congress halted a government shutdown by one week with an omnibus spending plan that also addresses the foodservice operations of both the House and Senate. The House is currently managed by Sodexo, while the Senate is managed by Restaurant Associates (RA). In the bill, the House raises concerns “with continued food service issues surrounding lack of food variety, consistent quality of service, and management challenges with the food services provider.” The Senate, meanwhile, voiced concerns “regarding findings that the food service provider for the Senate under paid many of its employees by misclassifying their work duties, and that problems with contract compliance could continue.” The spending bill directs the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and the Architect of the Capital to determine ways to incorporate more nationally branded concepts in the House and for the Senate to address labor issues with RA. Last year, the Department of Labor determined that RA failed to pay proper wages by improperly classifying employees to the tune of $1 million.
3. Ohio nurses say snack reduction harming patient health
Nurses at Affinity Medical Center in Massillon in Ohio claim the dietary department stopped stocking snacks in the patient care units in a move to save money. Instead, patients who want a snack must order it with their meal. The nurses say the policy change has made it difficult to administer medications that need food at the time of ingestion, and that it harms those patients who cannot order meals for themselves or are in a test or procedure when meal orders are taken. In response, the nurses are holding a food drive to collect snacks to distribute themselves.
4. Parents to be informed of cafeteria inspects in NYC
Following some less-than-stellar incidents regarding bones and plastic in school meals served in NYC public schools, parents will now be informed when health inspectors find unsanitary conditions in the city’s cafeterias. The Education Department has also agreed to post health inspection reports online. The move comes after a state Senate report [LINK http://www.food-management.com/news-trends/report-blasts-nyc-schools-over-sanitation-performance] that found that more than 13% of the city’s schools had a sanitation grade of B or worse in fiscal year 2015-2016.
Read more: EXCLUSIVE: New system will let N.Y. parents to get cleanliness info on their kids' school cafeterias
5. Creative Dining Services purchases Premiere Food Service
Michigan-based Creative Dining Services has purchased another Michigan-based food management company, Premiere Food Service. With the acquisition, Creative Dining Services will be valued at $100 million in sales. In the deal, Premiere brought Creative Dining about $9 million in additional annual sales, as well as eight B&I clients.