Gutting the Plastic Bag Ban

SUBHEAD: Rapozo to introduce amendment exempting all food service establishments from plastic ban bill.  

By Léo Azambuja on 1 February 2011 in The Garden Island

Image above: Councilman Mel Repozo (l) and Dickie Chang (r) hard at council business. From TGI article.

More than a year apparently wasn’t enough time to catch an obvious mismatch: Paper and gravy. A new law banning checkout plastic bags went into effect three weeks ago, but many food service establishments are allegedly already complaining of food breaking through paper bags and possible contamination.

 “The brown paper bags were not designed for holding these food items,” said Councilman Dickie Chang, explaining that when food spills from a to-go container, it causes the bags to break. “It can’t even hold an apple.” Ordinance 885 was adopted in October 2009, and went into effect Jan. 11.

Councilman Mel Rapozo said he intends to address some of the issues by introducing an amendment to the bill. “It’s going to exempt the food service establishments from the bill,” Rapozo said.

Rapozo’s main concern was with food-safety issues, despite also pointing out that the bags rip shortly after contact with food. “I received a few calls from some of the restaurants that were concerned about food safety,” said Rapozo, noting that there’s a growing concern that food-borne bacteria could transfer to food from reusable bags that customers bring in. As a result, he said, the establishment could end up with the blame in a case of food-poisoning.

“The purpose really is the food-safety issue, not so much the paper issue. It’s the fact that they are concerned about the transfer of food-borne bacteria,” Rapozo said. Chang said that when the bill was crafted, the food-safety issue never made it to the discussion.

 “If people don’t mention stuff to us, we don’t know,” said Chang, adding that the thinks the reason is that most people involved in the food-service industry “did not realize the bill pertained to them, that’s the kind of feedback that I’m getting from the public.” Councilman Tim Bynum, who co-authored the original bill with then-Councilwoman Lani Kawahara, said there were no food-service concerns when the bill was discussed.

 Bynum said he doesn’t feel there’s a need for an amendment, but he is in support of council members introducing amendments whenever they wish. “I’m willing to work into anything,” he said. Rapozo said the amendment will likely be introduced on the agenda of the Feb. 9 County Council meeting.

One Word Ben: Plastics

By Andy Parx on 2 February 2011 in Parx News Network - 

Back before late ’08 when the bottom fell out of the free-for-all, credit-spawned, consumerism bubble it was common to hear people bemoan the gobble, gobble, gobble of your typical over fed, too-much-stuff turkey-American. But in spite of the hope of many that perhaps the crash presaged a new era of right-sized consumption, we’ve gone right back to our old, traditional, grab-it-while-you-can rituals, like Coneheads demanding the restoration of our right to “consume mass quantities”. And as if to underline the way that, when challenged to do the very least we can do- and we mean the very least- we act like whiny, weaned infants demanding the restoration of our endless supply of teat. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that, backed by a wave of sniveling, self-centered assholes, Councilperson Mel Rapozo is trying to make sure the baby has his bottle by reversing the ban on plastic grocery bags that went into effect last month. And make no mistake about it. This would be a reversal. According to Joan Conrow’s post yesterday the bill would exempt “Food Service Establishment(s)” and defines them as  
any building, vehicle, place, or structure, or any room or division in a building, vehicle, place, or structure where food is prepared, served, or sold for immediate consumption on or in the vicinity of the premises; called for or taken out by customers; or prepared prior to being delivered to another location for consumption. This term includes, but not limited to restaurants; coffee shops; cafeterias; short-order cafes; luncheonettes; taverns; lunchrooms; places which manufacture wholesale or retail sandwiches or salads; institutions, both public and private; food carts; itinerant restaurants; industrial cafeterias; and catering establishments.  
That of course means that every supermarket with a “deli” on the island is exempt, as is any place that “prepares food” even if all you do is serve coffee. This is supposedly about “health issues” and maintaining “sanitary conditions” but it’s anything but. What kind of slobs are these people that they can’t make sure their takeout doesn’t spill all over the place without rewrapping it in a plastic grocery bag?

Don’t forget that those plastic bags that people use to wrap fruits an veges and meats are already exempt. But that’s not enough for your fat, pre-diabetic ass? You obviously need all that greasy, fat-laden gravy on your nutritionless white rice but are you such freakin’ pigs that you can’t get your slop from the store into your pie hole without spilling it all over your morbidly obese lap? All that plastic that the deli wraps your food in isn’t enough for ya, eh?

You need another bag to put it all in, in anticipation of the fact that you’re in such a rush to cram more garbage down your gullet that can’t get out of the store without spilling it on you $500 designer jeans. Health? If you cared about health you wouldn’t be eating all that processed pre-prepared crap and go home and cook a real meal. Sanitation?

You mean after you’re careless enough to let your stuff spill out into the bag you’re so intent on getting every last drop into that gaping maw of yours that you’ve gotta lick the bag? Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this bellyaching gripe session that’s been going on since the ban is that it comes from people who claim to be nature lovers and even environmental activists.

If you love your plastic grocery bags so much why don’t you go live in the Texas-sized plastic bag gyre out in the middle of the Pacific? Perhaps you should go on a diet of the shearwaters, dolphins and turtles the bags kill. If you can’t live without your nasty plastic grocery bags maybe we should make ones big enough to wrap you in when we bury you in the ground... we wouldn’t want to spill you and make a mess on the way to the cemetery.

Good Evening Ladies and Germs  

By Andy Parx on 3 February 2011 in Parx News Network -  

A characteristic trait of the true babooze is the reluctance to let facts get in the way of a good babble. So now that we’ve dispensed with the preliminaries we can get down the real idiocy behind Babooze-In-Chief Mel Rapozo’s demagoguing of the plastic grocery bag ban. Because had Rapozo actually tried to find out whether the claims that reusable bags carry pathogens that can cause disease are true he would have found that they were “just baloney.” At least according to the respected independent publication Consumer Reports’ “Safety Blog,” Turns out that media hysteria over bad bugs in reusable bags came from a study conducted with funding from- you’ve probably guessed already- the plastic bag industry. “Which is why” said the article,
“we’re not so swayed by a recent report about reusable grocery bags and their potential to make you sick. The report came out of the University of Arizona, Tucson and Loma Linda University in California. Smack on page one is this note: “The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the American Chemistry Council for providing funding to support this study.” The American Chemistry Council is the trade group that advocates on behalf of plastic-bag manufacturers. Now why would the folks who make plastic grocery bags want to cast doubts on the safety of reusable grocery bags? Oh, right.”
After pointing out that the study was based on a grand total of 84 bags the article says that:
The researchers tested for pathogenic bacteria Salmonella and Listeria, but didn’t find any, nor did they find strains of E. coli that could make one sick. They only found bacteria that don’t normally cause disease, but do cause disease in people with weakened immune systems. Our food-safety experts were underwhelmed as well. “A person eating an average bag of salad greens gets more exposure to these bacteria than if they had licked the insides of the dirtiest bag from this study,” says Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union. “These bacteria can be found lots of places, so no need to go overboard.” But Hansen notes that there are some reminders to take away from the study. It’s easy to spread bacteria from meat, fish, or poultry to other foods – in your kitchen or in your grocery bags. So we do think it’s wise to carry those items in disposable bags. Reusable bags are fine for most everything else, but it’s a good idea to wash them occasionally.
And of course the current ordinance on Kaua`i specifically exempts the bags used for vegetables and meats anyway. We’re not suggesting that campaign contributions from places like Safeway Inc., the Kauai Beverage & Ice Cream Co., Ltd or Randall Francisco, the head of the Chamber of Commerce- which was the only entity that strenuously opposed the bill- influenced Rapozo’s decision to reverse the ban... but they couldn’t have hurt.

 The fact is that the “amendment,” as currently written, would allow every single supermarket on the island to go back to those white plastic grocery bags when, first the original bill provided for bags for individual items like meats and produce and second, if people use common sense and wash out their reusable bags when they spill stuff in them there’s no health or sanitation issue.

Are we a bunch of baboozes who don’t have the smarts to know how to keep our food safe? Well, apparently it takes one to know one.


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