- Activist nonprofits with big endowments using litigation to go after soft drink companies. Loser-pays would help [Tiger Joyce, Inside Sources, see also]
- “Cigar City” a familiar monicker for Tampa. Likelihood of confusion between a beer and a salsa brand? [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
- USDA checkoff programs, which require farmers and ranchers to participate in group marketing, suffer setback in Montana federal courtroom [Baylen Linnekin, Reason; Joe Fassler/New Food Economy on First Amendment challenge]
- C. Jarrett Dieterle reports from craft brewers conference [Inside Sources] More profiles of Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso [Reason, The American Conservative; earlier here and here] The great German (regulated) beer stagnation [Esme Nicholson, NPR, 2016]
- Class action: consumer fraud to call dried/powdered vegetable ingredients “veggies”? [Lisa Fickenscher, New York Post] Entrepreneurial lawyers fatten on slack-fill cases [Candy Industry] If only buyers holding a sandwich had a way of judging its weight other than package size [Jake Offenhartz, Gothamist on suit against Pret-a-Manger]
- “The real opposition to food trucks was not coming from restaurants but from commercial real estate interests” [Aaron Renn, Urbanophile]
“Tens of thousands of UK tourists have put in for compensation [for food poisoning] in the past year, even though sickness levels in resorts have remained stable,” reports the BBC, in what Mark Tanzer, chief executive of trade travel association Abta, says is “one of the biggest issues that has hit the travel industry for many years”. Travel firm Tui “said it had experienced a 15-fold rise in holiday sickness claims in the past year, costing between £3,000 and £5,000 a time.”
Joel Brandon-Bravo, managing director of Travelzoo UK, told BBC Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money that the upward trend was being driven by claims management companies.
“People are being called when they get back from holiday and encouraged to make claims and we’ve also seen evidence of them employing touts outside resorts encouraging people to make a claim and walking them through the process to make it easy for them,” he said….
Abta says the cases usually involve holidaymakers who have been abroad on all-inclusive deals, who argue that because they only ate in their hotel, that must have been the source of their alleged food poisoning.
Sometimes it is possible to cast doubt on the claims, per a report by Tanveer Mann at Metro:
Two British tourists who claim they were left ‘bed-ridden’ as a result of food poisoning actually had more than 100 drinks while on an all-inclusive holiday in Gran Canaria, according to their hotel bill….
The CEO of [defendant] Jet2holidays, Steve Heapy, said: ‘The sharp rise in the number of sickness claims is costing hoteliers and travel companies dearly, and it’s frustrating when so many are made a year or more after the holiday has ended.
There is also fear that some overseas resorts will begin barring access to British holidaymakers entirely as unprofitable.
In the BBC report, Abta “says laws designed to stop fraudulent claims for whiplash have instead pushed the problem of false insurance submissions on to overseas holidays instead. This is because of a cap on the legal fees that can be charged by law firms pursuing personal injury cases at home.”
Two kids accidentally got served sangria at a suburban Boston restaurant. Despite lack of any report of ill effects from the mix-up, the mom is still suing, just because [NBC Boston]
- “Hilariously Truthful Defense of Waffle House Goes Viral” [Jeffrey Tucker, FEE]
- New York joins 26 states in limiting liability for pick-your-own and other agritourism businesses [Paul Post, The Saratogian]
- “Removing Glyphosate from Our Food Won’t Make Us Safer” [Jenny Splitter, Vice]
- U.K.: advisor to World Health Organization suggests drinking be “de-normalized” by making compulsory cancer warnings on alcoholic beverages [Benedict Spence, The Spectator]
- “Mandating Menu Labeling is Foolish, Not ‘Easy'” [Baylen Linnekin, Reason, earlier]
- How exactly is limiting the size of meal portions in restaurants a proper function for the government of India? [Rupa Subramanya/LiveMint via Alex Tabarrok]
A dozen servers at a Bangor steakhouse were relieved when the Maine legislature reversed plans to impose a high employer-paid wage on tipped workers. “I don’t need to be ‘saved,’ and I’ll be damned if small groups of uninformed people are voting on my livelihood,” said one. “James Dill, a college professor and the Democratic state senator from Maine’s 5th District, received hundreds of emails and phone calls from unhappy servers, he said. He initially voted for the ballot referendum because he supports a higher minimum wage. After the outcry, he signed onto a Republican measure to lower the tipped wage down again.” [Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post “Wonkblog”]
From the 1890s to the 1920s labor unions helped lead a war of laws and boycotts aimed at Chinese restaurants, drawing on anti-immigrant feeling and even sex panic. Recounting a forgotten history [Gabriel J. Chin and John Ormonde, Cato Regulation]
A working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research by a University of Washington team — the same team hired by Seattle to evaluate its minimum-wage experiment — just found serious ill effects:
This paper evaluates the wage, employment, and hours effects of the first and second phase-in of the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance, which raised the minimum wage from $9.47 to $11 per hour in 2015 and to $13 per hour in 2016. Using a variety of methods to analyze employment in all sectors paying below a specified real hourly rate, we conclude that the second wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent. Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016. Evidence attributes more modest effects to the first wage increase. We estimate an effect of zero when analyzing employment in the restaurant industry at all wage levels, comparable to many prior studies.
A Jonathan Meer post reprinted by Alex Tabarrok spells out just how bad that news is:
– The numbers of hours worked by low-wage workers fell by *3.5 million hours per quarter*. This was reflected both in thousands of job losses and reductions in hours worked by those who retained their jobs.
– The losses were so dramatic that this increase ‘reduced income paid to low-wage employees of single-location Seattle businesses by roughly $120 million on an annual basis.’ On average, low-wage workers *lost* $125 per month….
I know that so many people just desperately want to believe that the minimum wage is a free lunch. It’s not. These job losses will only get worse as the minimum wage climbs higher, and this team is working on linking to demographic data to examine who the losers from this policy are. I fully expect that these losses are borne most heavily by low-income and minority households.
But there’s more. When Seattle’s City Hall got word the adverse study was coming from members of its own research team, it quickly commissioned a pro-labor group at Berkeley to do a counter-study looking at restaurants and concluding that everything was peachy keen [Seattle Weekly] “Does City Hall really want to know the consequences, or does it want to put blinders on and pat itself on the back?” [Seattle Times editorial]
One other takeaway from the NBER: the low-wage-earner losses weren’t in restaurant jobs, which are far less mobile. Few Seattle city residents will switch to suburban eateries for everyday dining, even in response to relative shifts in cost or quality. But many blue-collar and clerical jobs can migrate to suburbs or locations farther away than that. In short, beware of restaurant-sector-only studies of local minimum wage effects, which will typically understate damage to hours worked.
More: Ben Casselman and Kathryn Casteel, Five Thirty-Eight; Max Ehrenfreund/Washington Post; Michael Saltsman/Forbes (“New Report Marks The Beginning Of The End For ‘Fight For $15′”); Ryan Bourne, Cato.
Suppose you’re devising an security attack on the hospitality and restaurant industry meant to get unwary email recipients to click on an infected file, thus unleashing malware capable of stealing banking records. What do you think would be a good psychological pitch for you to use? [Dan Goodin, ArsTechnica]
One variation started with an e-mail threatening a lawsuit because a visitor got sick after eating at one of the company’s restaurants. To increase the chances the attached Microsoft Word document is opened, the attackers personally follow up with a phone call encouraging the recipient to open the booby-trapped file and click inside. The attacker calls back a half-hour later to check if the recipient has opened the document. The attacker immediately hangs up in the event the answer is yes.
- Good: Incoming Agriculture Secretary Perdue to introduce “flexibility” into Obama-era school lunch mandates [Tony Mecia, Weekly Standard; Baylen Linnekin, Reason; Joe Simonson, Heat Street; Pat Roberts letter; earlier]
- Also good: FDA delays mandate for calorie labels on prepared food [Tim Devaney/The Hill, WSJ editorial, Seyfarth Shaw, earlier]
- And your hot dog isn’t from Frankfurt or Wien either: consumer class actions claiming beer names are geographically misleading struggle to convince judges [Greg Herbers, WLF]
- “We must destroy the ice cream man,” Senators told at hearing [Renae Ditmer, Indian Country Today]
- Canada recalls batch of liquor for having too much alcohol. Way to set up a sure-fire punch line [Canadian Food Inspection Agency]
- Yet another blow to oft-refuted “food deserts” theory [Christine Vaughan et al., RAND Corporation, earlier]