Ohio Company Invents “Influenza Sorbet,” But It Already Exists

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio is releasing a product they call “Influenza Sorbet:”

Their “Influenza Sorbet” blends Maker’s Mark bourbon with lemon juice, honey, cayenne pepper, and ginger. Company founder Jeni Britton Bauer says it began with a flu remedy from her mother.

“It doesn’t cure the flu but it certainly helps with the symptoms,” she said.

Two comments on this.

First, it’s distressing to note that this flu season is so bad that there’d be enough demand for such a product. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared an influenza epidemic on January 11, with 48 states reporting “widespread flu activity.” The particular virus that’s going around this season is the H3N2 virus, which CDC says typically causes more hospitalizations and deaths. Adding to the nation’s concern, the CDC also reports that the flu vaccine is 62 percent effective this season.

Second, with apologizes to Jeni Britton Bauer and her creative dessert ideas, influenza sorbet already exists.

So do influenza steak, influenza burgers, influenza margaritas, even influenza lattes. That’s because 90 percent of restaurant workers in the United States have no paid sick days. Millions of workers across the country wake up in the morning and face the impossible choice between staying home and not making enough money to support themselves that week (or getting fired) and going into work while sick and potentially infecting customers and coworkers. When asked, 60 percent of restaurant workers report working while sick at some point.

But don’t think you’re getting away by staying out of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. 40 percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of all low-income workers face the same impossible choice because they have no paid sick days. That mean it’s likely that the person who drives your cab, carries your bag, or cleans your hotel room is working while sick, for the sole reason that they can’t afford not to.

Say hello to influenza back seats, influenza suitcases, and influenza door knobs.

There’s a very simple policy solution: allow workers to earn paid sick days. Some states and cities have adopted ordinances requiring businesses of a certain size to allow workers this basic right, but many have not – and it’s a key reason why a stubborn virus like theH3N2 is whipping through our population so quickly.

Moreover, as the chart below shows, we are alone in the developed world on this issue. A barista in France or a bellhop in Germany doesn’t need to risk not making rent or losing their job when they get sick: they can do what’s right for their customers and coworkers by staying home.

That’s what we’re fighting to do in Philadelphia right now: create a situation where all workers, regardless of their wage or salary, don’t face an impossible choice, but instead have the rights and security to do what’s best for the public. Join us and add your name.