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Lawmakers urge USDA to reclassify Greek yogurt in nutrition guidelines
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After a visit to a major yogurt manufacturer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Richard Hanna recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking to reclassify Greek yogurt in the MyPlate nutrition guidelines. The nutrition guidelines currently do not differentiate Greek yogurt from traditional yogurt, despite it having double the protein. According to Sen. Gillibrand, what sets "Greek yogurt apart from regular yogurt is that producing it requires three times as much milk," which is why "it has so much more protein than regular yogurt." The lawmakers say that Greek yogurt could give schools an affordable high protein option, benefiting students and the community. The guidelines do not require new legislation to be introduced to reflect the change, which could happen by the end of the year. For more information, contact Sheree Edwards at sedwards@vending.org.



California: Bill targeting ADA lawsuit reform sent to governor for signature
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A bill aimed at helping California businesses comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, without facing the threat of frivolous lawsuits, has passed and will be sent to the governor for signature. SB 1186, authored by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga hopes to curb predatory ADA lawsuits, in particular against small businesses in the state. Specifically, the measure bans "demand for money" letters. The bill will allow business owners whose facilities were built on or after Jan. 1, 2008 and who have received a Certified Access Specialist inspection, 60 days to fix a violation, and would lower their statutory damages to $1,000. The bill would also allow small businesses with 25 employees or less who haven't received a CASp inspection, 30 days to correct the violation, reducing their statutory damages from $4,000 to $2,000. For more information, contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.


California: Few environmental bills make it out of the Legislature
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Environmental groups and their supporters hoping for a new wave of green laws from the California Legislature this year ended up with barely a ripple. From a statewide effort to ban plastic bags, to limits on foam food packaging, most of the top environmental bills of the 2012 session died. Three things led to the defeat of most of the bills: the bad economy, the huge state budget deficit and newly drawn political districts. Whenever a bill came up that could cost businesses money, members of both parties heard the word "jobs" loud and clear. A key example was the bill to ban polystyrene packaging, commonly known by the trade name Styrofoam, in many restaurant and grocery store uses. Companies that make the packaging in California came out in force.

A similar fate met a bill that would have banned plastic bags statewide at grocery and convenience stores. The plastics industry pushed back and argued that the bill would kill jobs. It died in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Environmental groups argued that banning plastic bags would create jobs for other companies that made different types of bags, or that banning polystyrene foam would create jobs for makers of cardboard or cornstarch containers. But they failed to persuade lawmakers. For more information, contact Sandy Larson at slarson@vending.org.



Michigan: Updated food law effective Oct. 1
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Michigan's Food Law was updated and the new provisions become effective on Oct. 1. The Michigan Department of Agriculture provided the following information regarding implementation. The law adopts a modified 2009 FDA Model Food Code, portions of the 2009 FDA Model Shellfish Code and various federal food processing codes and egg safety documents to provide national consistency for the food industry and assure food safety laws are based on the best current science. There are now three categories of violations that may be cited during an inspection: Priority, Priority Foundation, and Core. The previous violations terms of Critical and Non-Critical will no longer be used. Generally, violations that were previously cited as critical will now be cited as either P or PF and must be corrected immediately, or within at least 10 days. Non-critical violations will now be cited as C and must be corrected within 90 days. During inspections, key changes in the law will be reviewed with food establishment managers. Some of the changes include: Cut tomatoes and cut leafy greens must be kept refrigerated for safety; setting standards for food establishments to safely par-cook food. This is a technique where food is partially cooked, then cooled and finished later; Raising the annual gross sales limit for cottage food processors from $15,000 to $20,000 and again to $25,000 in 2018; Requiring mobile and special transitory food units to have a certified manager. Complete information on the Food Law can be found at: www.michigan.gov/foodsafety. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.


Virginia: First state in country to secure rest area SAVE initiate
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CRH Catering Company has been awarded a three-year vending contract at Virginia's rest areas and welcome centers. The public and private partnership is expected to defray the estimated $21 million annual cost of operating the 43 roadside facilities. Gov. Bob McDonnell said Virginia is the first state in the country to secure a sponsor as part of the Virginia Department of Transportation's Sponsorship, Advertising and Vending Enhancement initiative. In April 2010, McDonnell reopened all of the commonwealth's closed rest area facilities that now serve an estimated 33 million visitors each year. CRH Catering Co., which has locations in Richmond and Norfolk, Va., will develop and manage a new program to generate additional revenues that will help offset operating costs at Virginia rest areas and welcome centers. CRH has agreed to pay VDOT approximately $2 million annually in revenue generated by the ongoing vending program. For more information, contact Pam Gilbert at pgilbert@vending.org.

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