Meet Osama bin Laden: For a decade, food defense expert Rod Wheeler signed into visitor log books at food processing plants with a fake name: Osama Bin Laden. The notorious terrorist’s signature never aroused any interest, other than from one receptionist who dutifully asked what to write on his name tag. “Just call me ‘Bin’ for short,” Wheeler replied. The incident highlights an unsettling fact about safety procedures at many food processing facilities — the sense of security is often illusory, Wheeler said during the Northwest Food Processors Association’s recent conference in Portland, Ore. READ MORE

Toxic chemicals in fast-food wrappers: Invisible toxic chemicals are showing up in fast-food wrappers, according to a scientific study done with help from the Environmental Protection Agency. The study found the perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in grease-resistant wrappers -– including pizza box liners, sandwich and pastry packaging — from chains including Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, Taco Time, Chipotle and Quiznos. The chemicals can leach into food, potentially reaching consumers, the study authors said, urging companies to find safe alternative packaging. EPA scientists have found PFCs contaminating water nationwide and have determined that PFCs now are widely dispersed in humans and wildlife. READ MORE


The threat of agroterrorism: Warnings about the threat of agroterrorism are finally reaching the general public, judging by this recent article in the New York Post by novelist (and bioterrorism expert) Hank Parker, who’s written a novel on the subject. As Parker points out, agroterrorism has a long and disturbing history, dating back at least to ancient Greece and Rome. So far, there have been very few documented large-scale incidents in the United States, but organizations like al Qaeda have considered striking US agriculture — an attack that would be distressingly easy to conduct and is imagined in his new bioterror novel, “Containment.” “Our farms are mostly unprotected soft targets with large numbers of undocumented or transient workers presenting a challenge for close monitoring, and few vaccines are available for farm animals,” he says. READ MORE


The business of bacon: Bacon prices are rising as supplies shrink. The USDA says the supply of frozen pork belly, from which bacon is cut, is at its lowest level since Dec. 1957, during President Eisenhower’s term of office. That’s where the futures market comes in, explains a Forbes columnist. READ MORE