Yes, there are rivers up in the sky, and they’re responsible for up to 65 percent of the western USA’s extreme rain and snow events—such as the storm that blasted Northern California on Monday—a new study finds. They provide the fuel for the massive rainstorms and subsequent floods along the U.S. West Coast—like the storms that are lashing northern California this week, causing flooding and raising concerns about the integrity of dams and levees. California’s hard-hit Central Valley provides half of this country’s produce. READ MORE


Remembering the 9/11 of food safety: Exactly 24 years ago today my 16-month-old son Riley died from E.coli/HUS during the 1993 “Jack in the Box” outbreak, Darin Detwiler writes in Food Safety News. He was the last of the four young children who paid the ultimate price for failures in food safety protocols at that time. The landmark outbreak is often referred to as the 9/11 of the food industry. In the many years since, we have gained new federal policies, advancements in science and in reporting data collection, and even a whole new “culture of food safety.” READ MORE

Survey shows consumers still don’t understand food safety basics: The FDA has released the 2016 Food Safety Survey Report, a periodic national telephone survey of adults in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey found that consumers are somewhat concerned about getting a foodborne illness from how they prepare food, but think that people are more likely to get sick from food prepared at a restaurant. Consumers are more concerned about raw chicken and raw beef being contaminated than raw vegetables. Awareness was high for Salmonella and E. coli bacteria among the respondents, but low for Campylobacter. READ MORE

Screwworm update: Screwworm flies, whose larvae burrow into livestock and other animals causing extensive damage and death, caused substantial losses across the southern United States before eradication efforts began in the late 1950s. Over the past 60 years, screwworms have been pushed out of the United States, then Mexico and Central America. Last fall, though, screwworm flies turned up in the Florida Keys, infesting local populations of Key deer, a rare, diminutive subspecies of whitetail deer. Soon after, the parasite was confirmed on the mainland of Florida, infesting a stray dog near Homestead, in Miami-Dade County. READ MORE

Rare disease cluster identified: Three severe cases of human leptospirosis have been reported in a one-block section of the Bronx over the past two months, the first time such a cluster has been identified. Between 2006 and 2016, there were only 26 cases of leptospirosis reported among New York City residents, averaging one to three cases a year. The cases were also scattered across the entire metropolis, with illnesses reported from all five boroughs. All three individuals were hospitalized with acute renal and hepatic failure, with two developing pulmonary hemorrhage and one dying. Clinically there is a wide spectrum of illness, with many cases causing only mild fever and symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting or muscle pain—so there could be many more cases in the area. In New York City most human cases are associated with exposure to rat urine or contaminated rodent-infested environments. READ MORE


Don’t buy certain lots of this dog food: The FDA is advising pet owners not to feed their pets certain lots of Evander’s Hunk of Beef or Against the Grain Grain-Free Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog foods after unopened cans from both brands were found to contain pentobarbital, a barbiturate. The investigation is ongoing and includes an examination of the suppliers of beef to Evanger’s and Against the Grain to determine a possible source for the pentobarbital. READ MORE


Goanna Girl to the rescue: A plucky French waitress is evidently not scared of trespassing lizards so big they are mistaken for dogs. Samoa Lila, 25,  has made international headlines after grabbing the huge reptile by the tail and swinging it out of the restaurant in New South Wales. She has been dubbed “Goanna Girl” (the reptile is thought to be a goanna). READ MORE