Day: August 23, 2016

Beverage alcohol industry pushing back against new regulatory pressure, as views shift on moderate drinking

For some 40 years, producers of liquor, wine and beer have been helped by the notion, enshrined in the dietary advice of a number of governments, that a little alcohol can provide modest coronary and other health benefits. But now, according to a new Wall Street Journal story today, that advice is shifting rapidly, as health-policy officials around the world scrutinize previous advice amid new research pointing to possible cancer risks.

WSJ detail August 23 2016“The change is pressuring the alcohol industry in some of its biggest markets, including the U.S., the U.K. and Russia,” the front-page story says. “Its response is as expensive and sprawling as the threat it perceives, including attacking anti-alcohol advocates’ research and working with governments to formulate policy. Alcohol companies are also funding their own research, including a plan by four companies to contribute tens of millions dollars toward the cost of a rigorous study.”

In Louisville, Brown-Forman could be swept up in the shifting regulatory tides. The nearly 150-year-old companies sells its flagship Jack Daniel’s and nearly 20 other brands in about 160 nations around the globe.

A review of its regulatory filings shows the company has grown increasingly concerned about changes in public views about alcohol consumption, including moderate drinking. In its 2015 annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, it added a new passage to the business risks section that highlighted the possibility of “significant additional labeling or warning” requirements.

“Our products already raise health and safety concerns for some regulators,” the company warned investors, “and heightened requirements could be imposed. If additional or more severe requirements of this type become applicable to one or more of our major products under current or future health, environmental, or other laws or regulations, they could inhibit sales of such products.”

BenRiach scotchBut Brown-Forman’s rising concerns date to at least 2012, when it flagged the possible consequences of any new health research that could lead to heightened government scrutiny and controls. Its risk warning in that year’s report said: “If future research indicated more widespread serious health risks associated with alcohol consumption, and particularly with moderate consumption, or if for any reason the social acceptability of beverage alcohol were to decline significantly, sales of our products could decrease materially. Our sales could also suffer if governments banned or restricted advertising or promotional activities, limited hours or places of sale or consumption, or took other actions that discouraged alcohol purchase or consumption.”

That advisory appears to have been prudent, given the shifting views on moderate consumption disclosed in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Photo, inset: Brown-Forman added the BenRiach brand when it bought the BenRiach Distillery Co. in June for $405 million; it just launched 15 new whiskies. In photo, top: the company’s Sonoma-Cutrer wines.

Ali Center to salute McCain, Gossett, three others at annual awards ceremony

The Muhammad Ali Center said today it would honor leaders from the worlds of philanthropy, entertainment, and business at the fourth annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, Sept. 17 in Louisville.

Muhammad Ali
In 1967.

This year’s will be the first since the Louisville native, prize fighter and globally famous humanitarian Muhammad Ali died, in June in Phoenix, after a decades-long battle against Parkinson’s disease. He was buried a week later at Cave Hill Cemetery during a funeral that drew luminaries from government, politics and entertainment across the world.

He and his wife Lonnie co-founded the Ali Center, which opened in November 2005, and attended each of the previous year’s Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards. She will speak at this year’s ceremony, and present several of the awards. The honorees:

  • Philanthropist and businesswoman Cindy Hensley McCain (top photo, left) will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement; she is the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain.
  • Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian Louis Gossett Jr. (top, right) will get the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Education.
  • Tony Award-winning actress, singer and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Global Citizenship.
  • Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and humanitarian Jon Secada will be honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award.
  • John Rosenberg of Prestonburg, Ky., an attorney and founding director of the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, will get the the Muhammad Ali Kentucky Humanitarian Award.

Here are the detailed biographies of the honorees provided by the Ali Center: Continue reading “Ali Center to salute McCain, Gossett, three others at annual awards ceremony”

Papa John’s franchisee in NYC agrees to $500K deal on wage and labor violations; Kindred closing second Houston hospital

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated at 8:24 a.m.

PAPA JOHN’S: The owner of three Papa John’s restaurants in New York City has agreed to pay $500,000 in back wages to more than 200 workers under a deal with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the U.S. Labor Department; it’s the eighth case brought against Papa John’s franchisees by the state’s top law enforcer in the past two years. In addition to paying $500,000, franchisee Sultan Ali Lakhani must add procedures to handle employee complaints, post a statement of employees’ rights, and designate a compliance officer to submit quarterly reports to Schneiderman’s office (New York Daily News).

Kindred Holcombe hospitalKINDRED is closing another hospital in Houston, the second such closing the Louisville-based hospital and nursing giant has announced there this month as it consolidates operations in the city. The Kindred Holcombe facility near Texas Medical Center will shutter in October and all 204 jobs will be eliminated; local news accounts did not say how many beds the hospital has. With the earlier planned closing of 37-bed Kindred Hospital Baytown, the company will still operate nine hospitals in the Houston area (Houston Chronicle).