Obesity

What About Famous Original Singas Pizza?

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New York City's regulation requiring the conspicuous posting of calorie counts on restaurants' menu boards was supposed to apply just to big chains that standardize their dishes and already do (or can easily afford) nutritional analyses. But A.P. reports that the threshold for the rule, 15 or more outlets nationwide, is low enough to include obscure local chains and quasi-chains:

"This has been an absolute nightmare," said Enrique Almela, director of operations at Singas Famous Pizza, which has 17 restaurants, most in the borough of Queens….

Almela spoke with The Associated Press from his car Wednesday as he rushed sample pizzas to a food laboratory. He said the calorie tests for his 35 different pizza combinations will cost $10,000, and he doubts they will produce accurate data.

"I may put 15 pepperoni on a pie. Someone else may put 12. We don't measure the amount of cheese we put on," he said. "If you put up roundabout numbers, how does that help anyone?"

The deadline also looked problematic for a unique class of New York City eateries: loosely affiliated, largely immigrant-owned restaurants that share the same name and sometimes the same suppliers, but operate independently.

Afgan Paper & Food Products, which distributes food and packaging materials to many of the eateries, said it was scrambling to get them calorie info.

"The stores are all calling and asking for information. We don't have it," said Mariam Mashriqi, a receptionist at the company.

In the meantime, Mashriqi said, some owners were paying for the laboratory tests themselves.

"These are small stores. They are barely making a profit," she said.

You can find recent reason coverage of the menu board rule here, here, and here.

[via Scott Stein at When Falls the Coliseum]

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  1. Just create a 25% tax on all food. Why bother classifying healthy vs. not? Too inefficient. A 25% tax would surely cut overall caloric consumption, which would eliminate the roly-poly’s from the subway and make it so they could pack more people into the trains.

  2. But A.P. reports that the threshold for the rule, 15 or more outlets nationwide, is low enough to include obscure local chains and quasi-chains:

    “This has been an absolute nightmare,” said Enrique Almela, director of operations at Singas Famous Pizza, which has 17 restaurants, most in the borough of Queens….

    Jesus these guys are idiots.

    Change the names of your stores. Did the whole fucking east coast forget how to elude intrusive government regulations or what?

    The 15 store threshold was put there for a reason. USE IT!

  3. MP:

    Or do the smart thing and, like shipping boxes, charge based on weight and volume.

  4. Everbody already knows how many calories are in a Singas pizza. A shitload. Posting it will not cause anybody to lessen their calorie intake.

    Here’s an idea, if your trying to lose weight, lay off the fucking pizza.

  5. Change the names of your stores.

    Right. Changing it to Sings will make it sound like a Chinese place
    and no one will ever think of questioning it.

  6. Huh? You mumble somethin’ JsubD?

  7. I’ve got a better idea. Just put warning signs on all restaurants. Something like, “Warning! This establishment uses ingredients suspected to cause obesity, diabetes and coronary blockage!”

    p.s. In California we have something similar. Any business that uses toxic chemicals needs to post a prominent warning sign. EVERY business, store and restaurant in the state has one of these signs, as no exceptions were given for common household products like Pine-Sol or Liquid Plumber. The local progressives still get orgasmic shudders of delite when they think about this law, but the rest of the population just ignores those signs as totally meaningless.

  8. The local progressives still get orgasmic shudders of delite when they think about this law, but the rest of the population just ignores those signs as totally meaningless.

    So that when you are in proximity to REAL DANGER you are unaware. The do-gooders should be eaten by the wolf.

  9. “”””I may put 15 pepperoni on a pie. Someone else may put 12. We don’t measure the amount of cheese we put on,” he said. “If you put up roundabout numbers, how does that help anyone?” “””

    Can you say government portion regulations?

  10. All menu calorie counts are averages. Plus or minus two slices of pepperoni is well within the assumed margin of error.

    Any commercially viable New York pizzeria is already acutely aware of how many pizza crusts they’re getting out of a 50-lb bag of flour and how many pounds of cheese they need to top those rounds. They know exactly how many servings they get out of each pizza.

    Coming up with reasonable calorie estimates for dishes that are standardized across 15 or more outlets is trivially easy.

  11. Coming up with reasonable calorie estimates for dishes that are standardized across 15 or more outlets is trivially easy.

    Then you should be able to make a quick buck for providing this for Mr Almela for somewhat less than $10K. $5K should cover the cost flying to new york, putting in 8 hours, and flying back. I’m pretty sure he’ll even throw in lunch for you. and give you 18 peperonis.

  12. Singas Famous Pizza, which has 17 restaurants, most in the borough of Queens….

    The owner is rich and must be stopped! Nobody should own more than 15 stores without government permits. If they do, those permits should restrict them to healthy food.

    How dare this poison merchant spread his fat!

    Betcha he is a slumlord who sells Saturdaynight Specials.

    LB,

    Thank you for your input, now let us gather our guns to rid this land of these evil poison merchants!

  13. Just Sayin’,

    Don’t stop him. He is on a roll.

    Can’t wait for his simple transfats solution.

  14. Heck you live in NYC. Your only expense is a $2.00 MTA card – and you probably have the unlimited pass already anyway, being you’re all smart and all.

  15. Guy-
    It’s lindsay as in lohan not lindsey as in grahm.

  16. Lab tests??!!

    I really need the work and had I known that’s what restaurants were doing, I could’ve calculated their calorie counts for them just by weighing the ingredients and looking them up!

  17. dude if this closes down that Singas near my friend’s place on Utopia Blvd I will seriously flip out.

  18. I suggest that a federal program should be created to solve this problem.

  19. It’s not an onerous task to come up with calorie counts for pizzas.

    If you think this law is a bad idea on principle, fine, argue the principle. Don’t overplay the practical difficulties involved.

    Dieticians do these calculations every day, all across the country. In fact, anyone with a calculator can do them.

    If you’re running your restaurant chain efficiently, you already have 99% of this data at your fingertips. Calculating the calories in a slice of Singa’s pizza is as easy as calculating the profit margin.

    As a pizza-loving New Yorker, I’m finding the calorie counts very useful. You’d be surprised how many things that sound healthy but are way worse for you than a slice of pizza. The other day, I noticed that a wholesome-looking vegetarian wrap at my local sandwich chain had 4 times as many calories as a slice of cheese pizza. So, of course, I had a slice of pizza for lunch and emerged a healthier and more satisfied customer.

    If I buy a frozen pizza, I get the nutritional information on the back. If I get a product delivered from an equally big company, I’d like to be able to see what’s in it.

  20. Lindsay,

    If the calculation is so easy, why cant the consumer do it themselves? How did you not know that the veggy wrap had 4 times as many calories as the slice of pizza?

    The principle is obvious, it doesnt need to be argued. Or, at the very least, has been argued to death on this board, so its an axiom now.

    Really, why arent you offering your service to these places and making a quick buck if the calculations are so easy?

  21. Really, why arent you offering your service to these places and making a quick buck if the calculations are so easy?

    Because she’s a self-righteous statist?

  22. robc,

    If the calculation is so easy, why cant the consumer do it themselves?

    Because they would have to weigh the ingredients before they were turned into a pizza.

    How dim are you?

  23. NM,

    Because they would have to weigh the ingredients before they were turned into a pizza.

    No you dont. If they approximately how much goes into each, you could do the calculation afterwords. Weighing is unnecessary, at least to get within the range that is doable without a lab analysis (which I would bet isnt good enough for the law, hence the lab analysis).

    Of course, this still doesnt answer the question of “If its this easy, why hasnt someone with a scale and a calculator filled the void and created a cheap solution to this problem?”

    Im thinking the dim ones are those that cant answer that question.

  24. J sub D @ 5:44 said all that needs to be said.
    Why has this thread gone on so long?

  25. robc,

    No you dont. If they approximately how much goes into each, you could do the calculation afterwords

    If they know the approximate weight of the ingredients, yes, they can do an approximate calculation.

    So if Singa’s posts their recipe, customer’s can do the calculation. Without knowing the ingredients in the sauce, the dough, what kind of cheese, etc…that approximation will be pretty rough indeed.

    As for the lasagna, things get far more complicated.

  26. Of course, this still doesnt answer the question of “If its this easy, why hasnt someone with a scale and a calculator filled the void and created a cheap solution to this problem?”

    Maybe it isn’t as much of a problem as Jacob Sullum wants you to believe?

    Maybe it is only a problem for chains that haven’t figured out how to use a scale and a calculator?

    Unless the law is requiring a lab certified calorie count (which it might be), then this may be much ado about nothing used in order to wedge opposition to the measure.

    JS is hardly an objective reporter when it comes to these kinds of issues.

  27. http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/cdp/calorie_compliance_guide.pdf

    Laboratory testing is not required.

    Like I suspected, this is only a problem if you make it a problem. A simple in-house process can take care of it. Singa’s had ample warning, wasted money on a lab test, and then complained about a problem created by their own poor management practices.

  28. NM,

    Laboratory testing is not required.

    However, it does require accuracy within 10 calories. Actually, within 5, it requires rounding to nearest 10. Im not sure you can get that without a lab analysis.

    They require a “reliable method of analysis”. I dont think you can be that reliable without the lab analysis.

  29. the rest of the population just ignores those signs as totally meaningless

    I had the pleasure of working in a hotel when I lived in San Francisco, and having to explain to every goddamn tourist that the “toxic chemical” scare they receive at the front desk referred, in fact, to cigarette smoke. I suppose even that small joy will vanish when they ban smoking in hotels any day now.

  30. robc,

    The guide for compliance specifically mentions what counts as a reliable method…that includes looking up calories on a database, weighing the ingredients that go into the dish, and rounding to the nearest 10 calories for high calorie dishes.

    Like I said, anecdotal evidence from Singa’s does not mean there is a general problem…

  31. As far as accuracy, if Singa’s is worried that they will take a hit for an inaccurate calorie posting, they should standardize their procedure a little.

    Get a scoop for the cheese.
    Train employees to put 12 pepperonis not 15.

    I worked in a small chain Italian restaurant that made subs and pizzas (excellent, btw). They standardized portions for ingredients in every item on the menu. They did this for financial reasons…

    The same principle that lets you know how much you are spending on each slice of pizza will let you know how many calories go into each piece.

  32. NM,

    By why should Singa HAVE to standardize. Its great if you are running an industrial production site, but not if you are an artisan.

    Maybe what makes Singa’s pizza great is that it isnt always exactly the same.

    I took the Bud tour in St Louis this weekend. The absolutely amazing levels of repeatability and standardization that they go thru, the testing to make sure that the products from all their different breweries are the same, dont make their product taste good.

  33. Standardization won’t make piss water taste better, but if you standardize an already good-tasting recipe it won’t make it taste worse.

  34. Good grief, it’s a pizza, not a sculpture.

  35. Maybe what makes Singa’s pizza great is that it isnt always exactly the same.

    Contrast this with the concern of the owner…

    “I may put 15 pepperoni on a pie. Someone else may put 12. We don’t measure the amount of cheese we put on,” he said.

    I can see how the anticipation of winning the extra 3 pepperoni lottery might increase my enjoyment of the pizza. And if I win the “my slice isn’t shorted on cheese” lottery too, man what a day I’ve had.

    But more to the point.
    If Singa’s pizza is really artisan and not standardized fair, it is exempt from the law.

    You are only required to post calories if you “Offer substantially the same menu items, in servings that are standardized for portion size….This requirement does not apply to menu items that are listed on a menu or menu board for less than 30 days in a calendar year.

    How dim?
    and content

  36. That “and content” goes after “portion size.”

  37. An example of a barrier to entry in the market…

    From NYC, and related to the side bar.

    There are three conditions involved in deciding if you have to post calories.

    Are required to hold a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    (NYC DOHMH) permit
    ? Belong to a group of 15 or more FSEs that operate under common ownership or are individually
    franchised, whether locally or nationally, or do business under the same name
    ? Offer substantially the same menu items, in servings that are standardized for portion size
    and content

    Any item not on the menu for more than 30 days in a year, does not have to have calories posted.

  38. “””As far as accuracy, if Singa’s is worried that they will take a hit for an inaccurate calorie posting, they should standardize their procedure a little.””””

    He shouldn’t have to. The government shouldn’t have that authority to regulate portions.

  39. I fell that the restauranteurs of NYC have at their fingertips a chance to send a message to the city’s busybody professional regulators, summed up in the traditional disclaimer:

    “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”.

    It is a trivial matter to identify the individuals who promulgated this nannystate crapola, and post their photos on the wall under the banner “THIS MEANS YOU!”

  40. Look, you IDIOTS, the proper way to measure pepperoni pizza goodness is by how much juicy red oily goodness drips onto your shirt after you fold it and start eating.

    Secondary method is to see how big of a fit an ecofundie has when you dramatacally fold a slice and chomp on it in front of them at a tofu bar.

    Freaks.

    Jeesh!

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