Sharp same-store sales declines among some of the biggest players in the $331 billion restaurant industry have analysts and marketers worrying whether the slide is a long-term trend or a short-term hit due to less disposable income. In either case, casual-dining chains and independents are the biggest losers.
A bitter regulatory battle over the safety of a packaging system that can keep meat looking fresh long past its shelf life is escalating, amid complaints that the industry misinterpreted recent research reports to bolster its case. At issue is the growing practice of spiking sealed packages of meat with small doses of carbon monoxide. The gas is harmless at the concentrations being used, but it can keep meat looking bright red and fresh even as it spoils.