Navigating the Waters: LRA's Ongoing Updates on Mississippi River Saltwater Intrusion & Business Preparedness
In the wake of the unprecedented threat posed by saltwater intrusion into the Mississippi River, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) remains vigilant in its efforts to keep the community informed.
Recent updates, as conveyed by LRA President and CEO Stan Harris, reveal evolving dynamics in the situation. During a recent collaborative discussion with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), it was disclosed that the anticipated dates for saltwater intrusion have been extended, and there's even a possibility of no impact at all.
Affected parishes are proactively constructing pipelines to transport supplemental freshwater from upriver to crucial water processing plants. The LDH has implemented a robust plan to test water salinity, providing ongoing monitoring.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness disseminates regular updates through their website (emergency.la.gov), ensuring real-time information on potential saltwater intrusion.
As the LRA continues to diligently monitor reports from government agencies, the latest insights shed light on the constructive progress of supplemental pipelines, offering a glimmer of hope amidst this challenging scenario.
October 9 Update:
Building on the positive developments reported October 5, the LRA remains steadfast in providing detailed updates on the progression of saltwater intrusion in the Mississippi River. The Corps commits to weekly updates on the saltwater wedge's location, should it advance in the river.
Noteworthy considerations for businesses include the US Food and Drug Administration's salinity trigger at 250 ppm, with a focus on taste, and specific recommendations for vulnerable populations like nursing mothers or those with kidney conditions.
In discussions with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, efforts to maintain dilution levels below 250 ppm are ongoing, with current testing showing 40-60 ppm. For businesses reliant on municipal water, especially those with equipment like ice machines, tea and coffee brewers, and cooling towers, it is advised to consult equipment manufacturers or their manuals for salinity-specific recommendations.
The LRA assures its members that updates will be disseminated promptly as the situation unfolds, emphasizing the importance of adapting business practices to safeguard against potential disruptions caused by saltwater intrusion.
In today's workplace, where the digital landscape is integral to daily operations, maintaining strong digital hygiene is paramount. Poor cybersecurity practices can expose individuals and organizations to risks such as phishing, whaling, and spamming. Let's delve into each and outline three key tips for professionals to navigate these potential pitfalls:
Phishing: Definition: Phishing involves fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information, often through deceptive emails or messages.
Whaling (Spear Phishing): Definition: Whaling is a targeted form of phishing where attackers focus on high-profile individuals within an organization.
Spamming: Definition: Spamming involves the unwanted and often malicious distribution of unsolicited emails.
By adhering to these tips, professionals can significantly enhance their digital hygiene, fortify their defenses against cyber threats, and contribute to creating a secure work environment. Stay vigilant, stay secure!
In an era where the digital landscape plays an integral role in every facet of business, the restaurant industry stands at the intersection of innovation and vulnerability. As we navigate an increasingly interconnected world, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated, especially for establishments handling sensitive customer data and financial transactions.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a timely reminder for restaurants to fortify their defenses against online threats, elevating awareness about safeguarding digital assets and ensuring the trust of patrons. This observance fosters a proactive stance and a culture of cyber resilience, empowering restaurants to securely navigate the complexities of the digital age. As we enter October, let's collectively embrace the imperative of cybersecurity, safeguarding both the delectable experiences for our patrons and the digital foundations on which our restaurants thrive.
Here are five tips to help keep your restaurant business safe:
A Culinary Extravaganza Supporting LRA Programs, including ProStart
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Greater Baton Rouge Chapter is thrilled to announce the return of the highly anticipated 2nd Annual Oktoberfest, proudly sponsored by Mockler Beverage Company and Anheuser-Busch. This exciting event is dedicated to supporting LRA Programs, including ProStart, a two-year restaurant management and culinary arts curriculum in 19 Baton Rouge area high schools, while delivering an unforgettable evening of culinary delights, live entertainment, and camaraderie.
Delicious German-Inspired Cuisine Prepare your taste buds for an unforgettable culinary journey as Baton Rouge’s finest restaurants, including Cecelia Creole Bistro, SoLou, City Slice, The Overpass Merchant, Off the Hook, L’Auberge Casino & Resort, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, Country Pleasin' Sausage, The Gregory at the Watermark Hotel, Fresh Chef Kitchen, Go Eat Concepts, P-Beau’s and Modesto, come together to serve authentic German-inspired dishes exclusively at Oktoberfest at Pointe-Marie.
In addition, four area ProStart programs will be on serving German-style dishes they have developed in their culinary labs.
Live Entertainment and Contests As the evening unfolds, attendees can look forward to dancing the night away to the tunes of the local sensation, PANTS PARTY. Additionally, a costume contest will allow attendees to showcase their creativity and embrace the Oktoberfest spirit. For those with the strength and determination, there will be a stein holding contest to test their mettle.
A Night for a Good Cause Oktoberfest Committee Chair Brad Watts (Cecelia Creole Bistro) emphasized, “The 2nd Annual Oktoberfest is a recipe for success, blending the joy of community, the zest of culinary innovation, and the sizzle of lively entertainment. It’s where Baton Rouge comes together to raise a toast to our industry’s future, all while having a stein-holding good time!”
Original Culinary Creations Baton Rouge’s top restaurants will bring German-inspired original dishes to the event. Stand-out dishes include:
*Photos and b-roll video available upon request.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association is a business trade association representing more than 7,000 eating and drinking places across the state. As the largest employer, the restaurant industry provides careers and jobs to more than 200,000 residents. Restaurants are philanthropic in nature and support many community causes. Events such as Oktoberfest benefit LRA programs, including ProStart—a two-year culinary arts and restaurant management curriculum found in 19 high schools in the Greater Baton Rouge area.
Early voting is September 30 - October 7 (excluding Sunday, October 1) from 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Click here to vote early at a designated location in your parish.
Visit the Secretary of State's website to get election information here.
There are four constitutional amendments on the ballot. The Public Affairs Research Council (PAR) provides a guide to help you determine your position. Click here.
The Gubernatorial Primary Election is Saturday, October 14, 2023.
Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference on Friday, Sept. 22 and was accompanied by Colonel Jones from the U.S. Army Corps and Dr. Joseph Kantor of the Louisiana Dept. of Health, who provided the following information.
Here are the take aways from the press conference.
Saltwater Intrusion and Its Impact:
You may have seen news stories about the saltwater intrusion in the Mississippi River and the impact it may have on the water supply of communities upstream. The LRA Team, along with the Louisiana Dept. of Health (LDH) Engineering Team, is working to prepare members for the impact this could have on our residents and restaurants, should the situation worsen. The LDH in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are collaborating on communication and the construction of a higher underwater dam to stem the flow of salt water upriver.
Here are a few things to consider:
Once the saltwater reaches the intake, it could be a few weeks before it could disrupt the water supply given the concentration of the water system’s chloride functions. This would not create a boil water advisory, as the issue with saltwater is not bacterial, but corrosion of plumbing systems, which may leach metals in the water supply.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing a new threshold for overtime pay (1.5 normal earnings) for salaried employees earning up to $55,068. The current overtime threshold of $35,568 per year has been in place since 2020, making this a 55% increase ($19,500) to the federal salary threshold.
Salaried employees earning up to $55,068 per year will get overtime pay (1.5X normal earnings) when working over 40 hours a week, according to a new federal proposal. The current overtime threshold of $35,568 per year has been in place since 2020, making this a 55% increase ($19,500) to the federal salary threshold.
Total cost: The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) estimates this will result in a “Year 1 income transfer” of $1.2 billion from employers to employees.
How we got here: DOL sets a salary threshold to ensure eligible employees receiver overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Using 2022 data, the newly proposed salary amount equals $1,059 per week, or $55,068 annually for a full-year worker.
Leading Congressional Democrats have long supported federal overtime increases, as the Restoring Overtime Pay Act of 2023 proposes to raise the threshold to $75,000 per year by 2026.
Red flag: The DOL’s proposed rule also seeks an automatic “update” of the salary threshold every three years.
In the weeds: The DOL did not change the “standard duties test” to classify exempted administrative and executive positions.
Next steps: The NRA will collect feedback and plans to submit comments by the November 7 deadline. The DOL will also host briefings on the proposal in coming weeks.
LRA members are encouraged to review Overtime Proposal FAQs and provide comments on the impact it will have on your restaurant or hospitality business.
Review Comments & Submit Yours
Weekly topics break down some of the most important food safety processes to help all employees understand the whys and hows of safe food handling
Every day in neighborhood restaurants, staffers are employing essential food safety skills to cook and cool foods to proper temperatures, clean and sanitize their workspaces and wash their hands, while managers run checklists to prepare for a health inspection. These are all food safety skills learned and honed over time with good training and practice.
“Sometimes, we can forget the ‘why’ behind the actions we take every day to ensure a safe dining experience. So, this year, we’re helping the workforce at every level brush up on how to execute world- class food safety and why each of these best practices is important,” said Sherman Brown, executive vice president of Business Services for the National Restaurant Association. “For more than 30 years, ServSafe has been the leader in preparing foodservice workers to deliver safe dining experiences for their guests, while also keeping themselves safe. NFSM is a good time to remind food handlers not just of the best practices but the science behind why we do them.”
This year for National Food Safety Month (NFSM), ServSafe® is cracking the code on the time-tested, science-based skills that help prevent foodborne illnesses. Between August 21 and October 2, the experts at ServSafe will curate free training and education content including e-books, checklists, posters, and infographics that are digestible, sharable, and easy to put into practice. This year’s essential topics include:
NFSM, recognized each September, was created in 1994 by the National Restaurant Association to heighten awareness about the importance of food safety education. The 2023 NFSM is sponsored by Tork, an Essity Brand, and Ecolab.
To join the NFSM conversation using the hashtag #NFSM2023. Follow ServSafe on Facebook and Twitter for the latest resources. For more information, visit FoodSafetyFocus.com.
Industry-specific tool from National Restaurant Association essential for preparedness planning and recovery
Restaurant kitchens include open flames, hot surfaces, hot oil, cleaning chemicals, and a heavy electrical demand—all concentrated in one busy space. In the moment a fire breaks out, it’s hard to focus and plan. Always Ready: Fire(Opens in a new window) is the latest in a series of restaurant-specific guides designed to help restaurant owners and operators evaluate their risks and create a fire response plan so in the moment, they can focus on keeping people safe.
Restaurant fires account for about 6% of all nonresidential building fires reported to fire departments each year, causing more than $100 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Having a fire preparedness plan in place can mitigate losses, prevent injuries, and help a restaurant reopen faster.
“As business leaders, restaurant operators have many responsibilities for which they need to plan,” said Michelle Korsmo, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “How best to protect their team members, their customers, and their restaurant from fires is important planning for every restaurant operator so they can more effectively respond to this type of disaster. The National Restaurant Association is proud to provide the industry with the resources and materials it needs to protect businesses and to know where and how to start recovery efforts if disaster strikes.”
The National Restaurant Association Always Ready: Fire pulls best practices from official sources and restaurant operators—including human resources and risk managers from independent restaurants and national brands—to share recommendations for what to do in advance of, during and after a fire occurs.
The guide includes:
“This guide helps operators build a plan that engages their staff on how to prevent fires and how to keep customers and each other safe. We’ve brought together the knowledge and experience of fire safety authorities and industry experts who have successfully guided restaurants through fire losses with the aim of creating a resource that gets a damaged restaurant back open and serving the community as quickly as possible,” said Korsmo.
The Always Ready: Fire and Always Ready: Natural Disasters guides are available for free to all restaurant operators here.