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All Posts By FEAST Editorial Team

Over 10m Parcels To Fall Foul Of ‘Missed Delivery Dilemma’

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LONDON, November 3, 2015 – Over 10m parcel deliveries are due to fail this Christmas as recipients won’t be home to receive them, according to Postboxed.co.uk, the go-to hub for postboxed gifts, a hassle-free way of avoiding missed deliveries by ensuring parcels fit through recipients’ post-boxes.

Shoppers who miss a parcel delivery during the working week receive a ‘Sorry we missed you’ card from Royal Mail, requiring them to travel to their local delivery office to collect it. A record level of online shopping this year is expected to result in 10.4m parcels being ‘carded’ in December, a 12.6% increase on Christmas 2014.

The situation is worsened this year as Royal Mail has been granted an exception to its universal service agreement, allowing it to close over the Christmas period. Therefore, if a ‘carded’ parcel is not collected by December 24, it will not be available for collection at a delivery office until December 29. The closure is taking place despite the fact that a significant proportion of shoppers cannot collect items from delivery offices even when they are open2. The issue is expected to be most acute in London3.

Postboxed.co.uk launches this week to offer a hassle-free solution to the problem: all its gifts measure less than 7 inches (17.5cm) by 1.4 inches (3.5cm) including packaging, which are guaranteed to fit through 99% of post-boxes/ letterboxes in the UK4. It launches at a time when companies are trialling elaborate solutions to the nationwide ‘missed delivery dilemma’, including drones and apps that rely on using members of the public to deliver packages.

 

Markus Polleichtner and Liza Mirelman, co-founders of Postboxed.co.uk, said:

“We founded the company after getting completely sick of travelling to our local delivery office to collect parcels. If you just want to give friends and family a gift, why should it come with the onus of either annoying a neighbour, standing in a queue or searching your garden for a missing parcel? And while we think using drones to deliver parcels is all well and good in the future, there is only one way of ensuring your gifts definitely make it to a recipient’s hallway this Christmas: make sure it’s a postboxed gift. Simple.”

Although the main cost of missed deliveries is carried by delivery companies, there is still a personal cost to shoppers. It costs 70p per item to collect parcels from your local Post Office branch instead of travelling miles to a delivery office5, and it can cost anywhere between £6-£12 to side-step the ‘missed delivery dilemma’ by having a parcel delivered on a Saturday. If a second delivery is missed after a failed first attempt, the parcel is returned to the sender, forcing them to repay all delivery costs if they resend.

Postboxed.co.uk helps to reduce the huge environmental impact of missed deliveries6. Affordable, fast and reliable, it offers free next-day delivery for gifts over £25, and postage and packaging at £2.85 for gifts priced below this level.

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Bookings Open For The Clink Charity Ball 2016

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Changing attitudes, transforming lives and creating second chances.

 

Prisoner rehabilitation initiative The Clink Charity has opened bookings for its New Year extravaganza, The Clink Charity Ball 2016 (#ClinkBall16) in association with Lancaster London on Hyde Park.

 

This celebratory evening, taking place on Friday 15 January 2016 at the iconic Lancaster London, is the first event of its kind organised by The Clink Charity. All profits from ticket sales will be re-invested into the charity’s work to reduce the reoffending rates of ex-offenders through the provision of accredited City & Guilds NVQ training and assessment in food preparation and food service.

 

The event will support the continued development of further Clink training projects across Her Majesty’s Prison Estate too, following the same framework as the successful schemes currently in operation at HMP Styal, HMP High Down, HMP Brixton, HMP Cardiff and HMP Send.

 

In keeping with the charity’s commitment to hospitality training and the development of long-term careers in this sector, The Clink Charity Ball 2016 will embrace its sustained approach to social responsibility, engaging a talented workforce of hospitality trainees from across London. Students from Lambeth College and the University of West London will join graduates of The Clink training programme, apprentices from Lancaster London and young people on the CentrePoint scheme to prepare and deliver this unique event.

 

Guests to the ball will dine on a four-course menu created by Alberto Crisci, founder of The Clink Restaurant, and Ben Purton, executive chef at Lancaster London, using all-British and local ingredients where possible.

 

A digital ticketing system eradicates the wasteful paper trail, while menus and raffle tickets will be printed on recycled paper. Take-home table centrepieces, featuring seasonal plant bulbs from The Clink’s own gardens, can be won on the night and will continue to sprout beautiful flowers long after the event ends.

 

Speaking of The Clink Charity Ball, Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity, said:

 

“Since The Clink Charity began in 2010, we’ve made a steadfast commitment to ensuring we are as sustainable and socially responsible as possible. The foundations of the charity are built on transforming lives for the better and giving people who want and deserve a second chance at life a brighter future. We want this event to be the launch pad for a sustainable 2016, which is why we have made every effort to ensure every element of the ball will have a positive effect, whether that’s the students expanding their knowledge of the industry and gaining experience, or the table centre pieces living out their days in a guest’s garden. It all ultimately makes a difference.”

 

As the venue partner of the event Sally Beck, general manager of Lancaster London, added:

“We are really proud to be hosting the first ever Clink Charity Ball. We have been heavily involved with The Clink over the years and have seen firsthand the remarkable work they do. Lancaster London prides itself on its corporate social responsibility and we have found that our apprenticeship training programmes and offering work experience opportunities to those in need are not only fulfilling, but also extremely beneficial for both sides. Lancaster London is one of Europe’s most prestigious banqueting hotels offering first class cuisine and service; giving the ex-offenders an excellent opportunity to work with the best of the best in the hospitality industry.”

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The BAUERs Waltz Into 2016

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The BAUERs, Venice are delighted to announce they will host an unforgettable evening of dining, dancing and debauchery as they celebrate the New Year with their very own Venetian Waltz.

Taking centre stage in the Bauers Grand Ballroom, the ultimate in timeless elegance, guests will be able to don their dancing shoes ready to party the night away in true Italian style.

The New Year’s Eve package includes a lavish stay at the majestic BAUER PALAZZO. This exquisite hotel offers guests an opportunity to enjoy five star luxury within classical surroundings. Located in an original Venetian house from the 18th century it is often described as Venice’s most luxurious hotel with views spanning across the entire city, from the Grand Canal to the lagoon and Adriatic Sea.

On the evening of the 31st guests will be treated to a delectable epicurean four-course tasting menu at the renowned De Pisis restaurant. Serving some of the finest cuisine in Venice, the hotel’s Chef will prepare an innovative blend of local flavours with international and Mediterranean influences that will leave you delightfully full before being whisked into the grand ballroom to greet the New Year with a glamorous waltz.

As the bells ring out across Venice to signal the end of yet another year, dance lovers will then be able to toast loved ones with a glass of champagne overlooking the iconic splendour of Venice’s Grand Canal and take in the spectacular fireworks that will be lighting up the venetian sky to ring in 2016!

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Café Royal: High-End Coffee Brand Pushes Button On UK Launch

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Offering an unmistakeably delicious alternative for lovers of excellent coffee

United Kingdom, 2nd November 2015 – Café Royal, the brand from coffee roaster Delica AG, today makes its debut in Sainsbury’s stores across the UK. The great tasting coffee capsules are specifically designed to be compatible with all popular Nespresso machines.

Café Royal is the best-selling Nespresso -compatible capsule in Switzerland. There will be four Café Royal varieties available, each offering exceptional aroma and depth of flavour, for a consistently high quality coffee drinking experience. Espresso Forte and Lungo are the classic variants, whilst the Flavoured Editions Vanilla and Caramel offer an aromatic specialty for those with a penchant for the sweeter option.

Café Royal is strongly committed to sustainable design, from contents to packaging. The aroma-sealed, oxygen-tight capsules assure the finest quality in every cup; the whole range is certified under the UTZ sustainability-programme and consists of 100 per cent high-quality fine Arabica and Robusta beans grown in Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

The brand has received several accolades and won numerous awards for its unmistakably delicious flavour, system compatibility and the outstanding quality of its products. It draws on 10 years of experience and expertise in coffee blending in order to maintain its leading edge, now and in the future.

Dr. Raphael Gugerli, Managing Director of Delica and Café Royal said: “Consumers want to know where their coffee has come from and how this impacts their taste experience. We have invested time developing and refining our capsule offering, creating premium origin products that boast an exceptionally high level of quality and intensity of flavour.”

Dan Cizek, Buyer at Sainsbury’s said: “We are excited to be working with Café Royal to exclusively stock a selection of the range. We’re committed to providing our customers with great quality and value and are pleased to be able to offer Café Royal in our stores.”

Different editions for intense and delicious occasions

There are four Café Royal varieties available in Sainsbury’s stores across the UK: Espresso Forte, Lungo and Flavoured Editions: Vanilla and Caramel.

¨          The Café Royal Espresso Forte is a full-bodied coffee with fruity aromas and a hint of dark chocolate.

¨          The Café Royal Lungo is a coffee with a fine acidity, harmonious flavour and a subtle caramel note.

¨          The Café Royal Flavoured Editions are aromatic coffees. They are the perfect choice when classic coffee specialities don’t offer enough variety in terms of flavour.

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Rare Burgers

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Following the increased popularity of burgers served rare, the FSA have considered a range of controls businesses should put in place if serving rare minced burgers.

Whilst steak burgers are considered safe to eat ‘rare’, minced burgers have needed to be cooked through thoroughly in order to kill germs. Whole cuts of beef or lamb, steaks, etc, only have germs on the outside, so as long as the outside is cooked any potentially harmful germs that could cause food poisoning will be killed. However, where the meat is minced, any germs could spread throughout the product and not just be on the surface.

To ensure businesses can meet consumer demand whilst ensuring that public health is protected, the FSA have recently reviewed their recommendations on how to cook burgers. The FSA still stands by its recommendation that burgers should be cooked thoroughly until they are steaming hot throughout, the juices run clear and there are no pink bits inside. However, the FSA also acknowledges that “the risk from rare burgers served in catering establishments is not so unacceptable as to justify removing the adult consumer’s right to choose to eat it, provided a validated and verified food safety management is applied”.

Meaty Controls

The FSA has stated that in order to safely cook rare (minced) burgers, controls should be in place throughout the supply chain and businesses will need to demonstrate to their local authority officer that the food safety procedures which they implement are appropriate. Examples of some of these controls are:

  • Sourcing the meat only from establishments which have specific controls in place to minimise the risk of contamination of meat intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Businesses wanting to serve burgers rare pre-notify their local authority.
  • Ensuring that the supplier carries out appropriate testing of raw meat to check that their procedures for minimising contamination are working.
  • Strict temperature control to prevent growth of any bugs and appropriate preparation and cooking procedures.
  • Providing consumer advice on menus regarding the additional risk from burgers which aren’t thoroughly cooked. The FSA maintain that children should only be served burgers that are well-done.

The standing advice of the Advisory Committee on Microbiological Safety of Food is that burgers should be cooked thoroughly – i.e. reaching a temperature of 70°C for two minutes, or equivalent which “delivers a significant pathogen reduction which is sufficient to minimise the risks posed by foodborne pathogens such as coli O157, Salmonella andListeria monocytogenes”. Preparation of burgers in line with this advice, whether in the domestic or catering setting, will deliver a reduction in bacterial load of at least 6-log10 12 and, in terms of the above framework, this practice is broadly acceptable provided adequate controls are in place.

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BHA Calls For New Law On Tipping And Service Charges

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Restaurants and hotels should be legally required to tell customers how service charges and tips are distributed among staff. That’s the message from the British Hospitality Association (BHA) in a new initiative proposed to Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

The BHA – which represents 40,000 hospitality establishments in the UK – wants the Government to introduce legislation to make businesses reveal exactly what happens to the ‘extras’ customers pay at the end of a meal.

“For us it’s all about transparency,” said Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the BHA, which has outlined the proposal in a letter to the Business Secretary.

“Although restaurants are legally entitled to deduct administration costs from service charges, for example, we think it’s important the customers understands exactly how much is deducted and why.

“Customers should be able to reward good service and know where their money ends up and how much of it goes to the staff.”

Many restaurants and hotels have signed up to the British Hospitality Association’s voluntary code of transparency on tips and service charges.

But now the BHA wants to make it a legal requirement.

The BHA wants to end confusion among customers about who is entitled to service charges.

Since 2009 it has been illegal for restaurant owners to use tips and service charges to bring wages up to the national minimum wage.

Service charge usually goes into a ‘Tronc’ – which is then distributed among waiters, front of house and the kitchen team – allocated according to arrangements agreed by the staff.

The letter to the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid says:

“…we propose that the following disclosures be made compulsory: Restaurants should disclose to customers how they deal with discretionary service charge and non-cash tips, at least by a written notice available for inspection at each restaurant and on the restaurant’s website, if there is one. 

The disclosure should cover:

  1. Whether an amount is deducted for handling costs (and how much);
  2. How the remainder is shared between the restaurant and the employees;
  3. The broad process for distribution, for example, that they are shared between the employees in the restaurant through a system controlled by a representative of the employees.”

Ms Ibrahim added: “Restaurants are legally entitled to deduct credit card and administration costs from service charges. But we think it’s important that customers understand how much is deducted and why.

“Customers should be able to reward good service and know where their money ends up and how much of it goes to the staff.”

Following concerns raised in the media, the government launched an inquiry into the issue.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has called for evidence into how cash and non-cash tips, gratuities, cover and service charges are collected and how much employers deduct from their employees.

The inquiry does not only cover the hospitality sector but goes much wider, extending to other industries where tipping is prevalent, such as hairdressing and casinos. The deadline for responses is 10 November.

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Twinkies Touch Down In The UK For NFL Celebrations

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Twinkies, America’s iconic cream-filled cake treat, touched down at the NFL UK series yesterday, Sunday 1st November, to help revellers re-fuel following a nail-biting final between the Kansas City Chief and Detroit Lions.

More than 80,000 people attended the event yesterday, proving just how much the Brits have embraced US culture in recent years – and revellers were delighted to get a taste of America’s iconic snack.

Until recently Twinkies were not available in the UK, but thanks to Innovative Bites – one of the UK’s leading distributors of American goods – the snack has now officially hit British grocery stores. Twinkies are currently stocked in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, WHSmith’s and other quality retailers across the UK.

Vishal Madhu, Director of Innovative Bites, said, “Consumers insatiable appetite for all things American is growing, so it made perfect sense to bring Twinkies to the UK  – not just in it’s original guise, but in new flavours too.”

Known for their creamy, golden goodness the Twinkie is more than just a cake – it’s an American institution. Since launching in 1930, the delicious cake treat has regularly featured on the silver screen in classic movies such as Die Hard, Ghostbusters and Deer Hunter – and more recently in Zombieland and The Last Man on Earth.

Available in original – and now banana and chocolate  – the sweet treat comes in packs of two, priced from £1.99, and multi-packs of ten priced from £7.50.

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New Winter Menu At Hunter 486

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Hunter 486 within The Arch London in Marylebone has devised a new winter menu offering guests a taste of classic British cuisine with a modern twist.

The menu, developed by Head Chef, Gary Durrant, is inspired by ‘Best of British’ recipes using seasonal ingredients.  The new addition to the menu and star of the show is Hunter 486’s Grilled Native Lobster, which can be enjoyed with tarragon butter and hand cut chips or in a roll with garlic butter, choron sauce and hand cut chips.

Other new dishes include delights such as: Rare beef salad with winterslaw and horseradish dressing; Grilled calves liver with bacon, roasted shallots, mash and sage sauce.

The crowning glory of the menu is the use of the stone oven.  As it operates at a very high heat, meat and fish are produced with astonishingly succulent results. New stone oven dishes include Braised lamb shank; and Mushroom, stilton and thyme wellington.  The menu also offers dishes to share including: Best of butchers board  with rib eye steak, mini burgers and braised short ribs served with  Yorkshire puddings and hand cut chips; and The vegetable board with grilled, roasted and marinated vegetables with buffalo mozzarella.

Named after the 1950s dialling code for Marylebone, Hunter 486 has been designed with an air of nostalgic London glamour fused with contemporary touches. The restaurant features gleaming leather booths, blown glass chandeliers and statement artwork, plus an adjoining chic Salon de Champagne bar.  The kitchen is delightfully open plan and airy, allowing guests to watch the skilled chefs at work amongst the gleaming selection of copper pots and pans suspended from the ceiling.  Light streams through the large windows, treating guests to a charming view of the neighborhood mews, and come the evening, the softly lit restaurant is an intimate and romantic setting for dinner and drinks.

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The Crow’s Egg – A Story Of Two Brothers On A Mission To Taste Pizza

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Universally Acclaimed Film “The Crow’s Egg” provides a vivid portrait of urban child poverty in South India

Charged with feel-good moments” – The Hollywood Reporter

The critically acclaimed, feel-good family drama, The Crow’s Egg (Kakka Muttai), which has been storming the international film festival circuit with an abundance of positive reviews, applause and admiration, is set for its UK release on 20th November through Fox Star Studios.

Set in the blistering squalor of a Chennai slum, the Indian National Award Winning film, The Crow’s Egg blends harsh realism with fantasy as it tells the uplifting story of two young, impoverished brothers (Kakka Muttai and Chinna Kakka Muttai) who embark on an endeavour to raise enough money in order to be able to enter their local ‘up-market’ pizza parlour with the desire to taste this new-fangled dish called ‘pizza’.

Realizing that one pizza costs more than their family’s monthly income, they begin to plot ways to earn more money – inadvertently beginning an adventure that will involve the entire city. The interesting title is a reference to the poor state of the street urchins, often going without food for days and surviving only by stealing crow’s eggs to eat.

The film brings together an ensemble cast including two leads who are played expertly by young, award-winning actors V Ramesh and J Vignesh who jointly picked up the Best Actor award at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles – IFFLA, when the film received the Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature. Completing the line-up is Aishwarya Rajesh, Nivas Adithan and making a guest appearance is renowned Tamil actor, director and playback Singer, Simbu. The film is written and directed by M Manikandan and is produced by leading Indian film actor Dhanush. The rousing musical score has been penned by GV Prakash Kumar.

Receiving universal acclaim at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015, the film has been praised by audiences and critics alike for its unique story and impressive performances.  It went on to win two National Film Awards in India for Best Children’s Film and Best Child Artistfor its lead stars V Ramesh and J Vignesh.

 

Synopsis:

The Crow’s Egg is about two brothers who live in a concrete-and-tin Chennai slum home in India. They are so poor that their staple diet consists of eating raw crow eggs, which they steal from crow nests. This is how they earn the nicknames – ‘Elder Crow Egg’ and ‘Younger Crow Egg’. One fine day their favorite superstar inaugurates a Pizza parlour near their slum.

Soon the boys begin dreaming of eating this Pizza. They seek help from many well-wishers and gradually earn the money they need. Unfortunately, the security guard at the Pizza parlour shoos them away seeing their shabby appearance and, when they refuse to leave, the manager slaps them in public.

This incident is captured on a cell phone by a boy who lives in the slum. The video footage of this incident attracts the attention of two goons who bring it to the notice of the pizza franchise owner, news channels and local politicians. Fearing his license will get canceled, the owner begins desperately looking for the two boys, who have disappeared.

The Crow’s Egg is a cleverly observed, articulate and excellently narrated Tamil film. The film applies a combination of realism and satire as a magnifying glass to explore the deeper moral issues of extreme poverty, exploitation and the strong power of family values that ultimately interweave into every aspect of the protagonists’ lives.

The Crow’s Egg is “a slice of pizza from real life” bringing together all the classic ingredients of a feel-good film, mixing bitter sweet emotions with a starkly serious social message and a thought-provoking ending.  The Crow’s Egg releases on 20th November 2015 through Fox Star Studios.

 

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Number Of Restaurants Shutting Down 50% Higher Than At Height Of Recession

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The number of restaurants going out of business was 50% higher last year than at the height of the recession – with 1,294 becoming insolvent in 2014/15, up from 865 in 2009/10*, says Moore Stephens, the Top Ten accountancy firm.

Figures show that failure rates among restaurants jumped 20% in just one year, up from 1,082 in 2013/14, even as consumer confidence and spending power are boosted by a return to wage growth.

Moore Stephens says that the recent boom in ‘pop-ups’, innovative mobile street food operators and concept restaurants opening, coinciding with a more favourable economic outlook, could be inspiring many would-be restauranteurs and chefs to start a food business.

However it says that despite improving consumer spending, increasing competition and rising rents mean that the financial pressures on restaurant and catering businesses remain extremely high.

High profile failures in the past year include four of Marco Pierre White’s pubs, which went into administration in January, and Swiftsure Projects, the firm behind last year’s Masterchef pop-up restaurant, which collapsed despite the event reportedly selling out within days.

Steve Ramsbottom, Restructuring & Insolvency Partner at Moore Stephens says, “You don’t expect to see restaurants failing at their fastest rate in years in a rebounding economy.

“Whilst consumer spending on eating out is increasing, the competition for that restaurant spend is intensifying at a faster rate. Innovation in the sector is leaving some older formats for dead.

“At the same time costs – particularly rents – are rising. The combination of these factors is creating very challenging market conditions and increasing numbers are closing as a result.

“In a more buoyant climate, as rents, wage bills and other operational costs increase, it can be easy to underestimate the true impact of set-up costs and on-going overheads on profits,” says Steve Ramsbottom.

“The buzz surrounding innovative new food and restaurant concepts may be a big draw encouraging people to ‘have a go’ but the inexperienced can get out of their depth very quickly.

“That’s true for pop ups and mobile street food businesses as well as restaurants. Installing equipment in a converted warehouse or serving lobster rolls out of a vintage fire engine doesn’t come cheap.

He adds, “As new, trendy eateries open up in towns and cities, existing restaurants and food outlets which may seem less exciting and inviting by comparison are inevitably at risk of getting edged out.”

 

Moore Stephens explains that key factors impacting profitability in the sector include:

  • Tough competition for good sites, especially in crowded metropolitan centres such as London. Many prime sites don’t even come to market – instead they are sold or rented off plan, often to well-known brands
  • Market over-saturation in some areas
  • High demand swelling rent expectations from landlords – creating the risk that revenue fails to keep pace with overheads
  • Expansion of chains driven by private equity investment making it harder for independent and privately owned businesses to compete against their economies of scale, purchasing power and brand reputation. For example, private equity backed Byron Burger, healthy fast-food chain Leon and branded Thai restaurant chain Busaba Eathai are among those who have recently announced further expansion plans
  • A shortage of chefs, with even top restaurants such as double Michelin-starred Midsummer House in Cambridge reporting that they are unable to fill posts. This can make it harder for restaurants to maintain quality and consistency – leading to potential reputational damage and higher costs to recruit the best staff or to employ agency chefs

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