The risk of foodborne bioterrorism is real

It’s happened before: Islamic State leaders are reportedly asking followers to carry out terror attacks by poisoning food in Western supermarkets. It’s not like poisoning our food has not happened before, and we certainly have been warned. As far back as 2011, for example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of infectious disease outbreaks caused by pathogens falling into the wrong hands and into our food. Perhaps a foodborne bio-terrorism event cannot be stopped, but with investments in surveillance, it could be minimized. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Concerns about sewage leaks, mosquitoes in hurricanes’ wake: Public health threats are arising dramatically in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Sewage leakage and mosquitos top the list of concerns, closely followed by mold concerns resulting from water damage to homes and businesses. Cleanup is well underway in Texas, just beginning in Florida. The cleanup in both places will take months to years. Dwellings and business damaged beyond 50% of their value will have to be destroyed and rebuilt according to new standards set by the states and federal governments. Adding to these difficulties, the hurricane season is far from over, meaning that additional damages, even in those regions already ravaged, could conceivably occur. Hurricane Harvey released a stream of toxic pollutants from chemical plants, refineries and Superfund sites in Texas. But when its bigger sister Irma slammed into Florida, environmental alarms rang over a different kind of discharge: raw sewage. And in Texas, aerial attacks against mosquitoes have been launched in coastal regions where the pests are swarming, threatening to spread disease and hinder disaster recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. As if all that were not enough, in Miami crooks helped themselves to shoes, clothes and laptops from closed-up stores. In Miami-Dade County, 37 people were arrested for post-Hurricane Irma looting.Read more HERE, HERE and HERE.

FOOD SECURITY

Food concerns in Caribbean: A week after Hurricane Irma struck a string of Caribbean islands, some residents find themselves in darkness, as power remains out, and they’re increasingly worried as food and water supplies dwindle. “I even don’t know how long it will take before people here get food. This morning, my wife was making soup with just two potatoes in it. We have nothing to eat,” one resident said. Along with feelings of abandonment, island residents spoke of widespread scarcity, the generosity of neighbors, looting and machete-armed volunteers standing guard over properties. READ MORE

Prices could rise after Irma’s damage: Damage and disruptions resulting from Hurricane Harvey’s and Irma’s floods and winds could drive up prices for everything from vacations and plastic toys to oranges and cocoa. It also could lead to pain in your 401(k). Publicly traded companies whose shares are found in many retirement portfolios, including Comcast, Newell Brands and auto retailer Group 1 Automotive, are among those saying the storms will hurt business or financial results. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Gas attacks injures six in airport: Six people have been injured after gas was released at Frankfurt Airport in Germany. Emergency services responded to the incident, which occurred inside terminal one on Monday morning. The Sun reported someone tear gassed passengers waiting at the check in counter, with breathing difficulties reported among the victims. German tabloid Bild reported that an unknown person sprayed an “irritating substance” at people at the check-in desk. READ MORE