Research Shows Excessive Drinking Cost US Economy $249 billion

Research Shows Excessive Drinking Cost US Economy $249 billion

The research, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealed that over-consumption of alcohol cost the US economy approximately $2.05 per drink in 2010, a marked increase from $1.90 in 2006.

Equating to $249 billion overall, the majority of these costs were incurred through reduced workplace productivity, crime, and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking.

While the federal governement paid for just over 40% of these costs, the median cost per state was $3.5 billion, ranging from $488 million in North Dakota to $35 billion in California.

Furthermore, the study determined that excessive alcohol consumption causes approximately 88,000 deaths each year, including 1 in 10 deaths among working-age Americans aged 20-64.

Robert Brewer, head of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the study’s authors, shared his thoughts on the study’s findings:

“What surprised us in this study was the extent to which that public health impact was focused on working age adults.”

He also noted that “effective prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in states and communities, but they are under used.” This includes increasing alcohol taxes and limiting alcohol outlet density, among others.

The researchers compiled their cost estimates based on changes in the occurrence of alcohol-related problems and the cost of paying for them since 2006. However, the authors believe these costs have been underestimated because information on alcohol is frequently underreported or unavailable.

For the study’s full text, click here.

Food Safety: Best Practices for Prep

Food Safety: Best Practices for Prep

September is National Food Safety Month, so, in honor of good food practices, here are some best practices to follow when thawing frozen foods, holding them at the desired temperatures, and prepping produce.

Best practices for thawing food, by method

  • Refrigeration: Thaw TCS food at 41 ̊Fahrenheit (5 ̊Celsius) or lower to limit pathogen growth. Plan ahead when thawing large items, such as turkeys. They can take several days to defrost.
  • Microwave oven: You can safely thaw food in a microwave, but only if the food is going to be cooked immediately. Be warned: large items, such as roasts or turkeys, might not thaw well with this method.
  • Cooking: Thaw food as part of the cooking process.
  • Running water: Submerge food under running, drinkable water at 70°Fahrenheit (21°Celsius) or lower.  Never let the temperature of the food go above 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) for longer than four hours.

Tips on holding food at desired temperatures

  • Hold foods at their correct temperatures. TCS foods should be held at the correct internal temperatures. Cold food should be held at 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, and hot food should be 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.
  • Check temperatures regularly. Timing is essential. Make sure you check food temperatures at least every four hours. Toss  food that’s not 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, or 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.
  • Use food covers and sneeze guards. Keep food covered to help maintain temperatures.  Covers and sneeze guards also help protect the food from contaminants.
  • Use hot-holding equipment properly. Don’t reheat food in them unless they are built to do so.

Five rules to follow when prepping produce

  1. Avoid cross-contamination by preventing fruit and vegetables from touching surfaces exposed to raw meat, seafood or poultry.
  1. Wash produce thoroughly under running water before cutting, cooking, or combining it with other ingredients. Don’t forget to make sure the water is a little warmer than the produce, remove the outer leaves of leafy greens, and pull lettuce or spinach completely apart, and rinse thoroughly.
  1. Don’t mix different items or multiple batches of the same item together if you’resoaking or storing produce in standing water or an ice-water slurry.
  1. Store items, such as sliced melons, cut tomatoes and cut leafy greens, at41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower.
  1. Don’t serve raw seed sprouts if you primarily serve high-risk populations.

Via National Restaurant Association

Have more food safety tips? Share them below.

Happy safe cooking!

Don’t Let Food Allergies Drive Customers From Your Restaurant

Don’t Let Food Allergies Drive Customers From Your Restaurant

With more than 250 food allergens identified, and 15 million Americans diagnosed with food allergies, it’s no small task ensuring your restaurant’s food safety protocols are up to par, a must if the hope is to continue serving this large market.

To help those dealing with food allergies feel confident about their safety while dining in your restaurant, here are the key takeaways from an educational session at the 2015 National Restaurant Association Hotel-Motel show during which a panel of food safety experts shared their food allergen acumen :

  • Train your staff how to handle food allergens. “Incorporate your employees into your process. They start buying into it and feel more confident in what they’re doing,” says William Weichelt, ServSafe director.
  • A certified manager should be present during every shift and directly involved in all instances in which food allergies are a known concern. He or she acts as a knowledge center for customers as well as a resource for employees.
  • Never guess. Speaking of certified managers, if employees are asked a food allergy question that they can’t answer, ensure that they reach out to a manager who can.  If your restaurant cannot confidently satisfy a guest’s request, expressly communicate this. This outcome, although not ideal, is much safer for all involved rather than the risky alternative.
  • Make ingredient lists available to guests. They know their allergy better than you do, and thus will likely know the names of ingredients or sub-ingredients that may be red flags for them.
  • Sub-out widely used allergens. If possible, isolate ingredients or recipes that could trigger a common allergy. For example, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro now uses wheat-free soy in lieu of regular soy in all of its marinades.
  • Create a back-of-house system for allergen-specific equipment. Consider using color-coded, allergen-specific plateware, prepware and other equipment.
  • Invest in allergy-specific technology. Natalie Krusemeier, director of training for the 7-unit, Chicago-based Colonial Café, says the company’s POS system has an allergen key. When pressed by a front-of-house staffer, the back of the house knows of the allergy, and a manager then becomes involved.

For additional information regarding food allergens, reference FARE, Food Allergy and Research and Education group, and CHART, the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers.

This article originally appeared on and can be found here.

How Strong Is My Cocktail?

How Strong Is My Cocktail?

Ever wondered how much alcohol is in the cocktail you just made, or drank? Use this simple formula to calculate cocktail proof. 

alcohol content × liquor volume  ⁄  total drink volume × 100= 

% of alcohol by volume or cocktail proof

The measurements needed:

  1. Alcohol content and volume of each liquor used. In order to calculate cocktail proof, or percent of alcohol by volume, you need to know the alcohol content by volume as well as how much of each liquor was used. This tells you the volume of alcohol you’re adding per liquor.
  2. Total drink volume. The total volume of the cocktail, including alcohol, mixers and melted ice if used, is also necessary so be sure to measure the volume after shaking but before drinking!

A few things to know:

  • The alcohol volume can be found on the liquor bottle label. If you are using the proof, divide it by 2 to get the % of alcohol by volume. For example, 80 proof is 40% alcohol by volume.
  • After you know the alcohol volume, move the decimal two places to the left before using the equation. So 40% will be .4 when doing the calculation.
  • If you’re using a few different types liquors in your drink, remember to add the alcohol content contributed by each before dividing by the total drink volume.

Let’s use a margarita for example:

  • 1.5 oz silver tequila (70 proof, 35% abv)
  • 1 oz triple sec orange liqueur (80 proof, 40% abv)
  • 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ice (0.5 oz melted)

[(.35 × 1.5) + (.40 × 1)]  ⁄  (1.5 + 1 + 0.5 + 0.5)] × 100

[( .525 + .40 ) /  3.5] × 100

[.925 / 3.5] × 100

.26 × 100 =

26% ABV or 32 proof

And there you have it! Now you’ll never wonder how much alcohol was in that last cocktail, or 5.