Three AI cases confirmed this week: Three cases of avian influence (AI) this week at U.S. poultry farms have raised the specter of the 2015 AI outbreak that USDA calls the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history. The 2015 outbreak led to nearly 50 million birds being destroyed before it died down in June 2015. The estimated economic impact was some $3.3 billion. The Associated Press reports that Tennessee officials have confirmed poultry at a second commercial breeding poultry operation in Tennessee has tested positive for the avian flu. The chicken breeding facility is located in Giles County,  south of Nashville and close to the Alabama state line. On Sunday, USDA announced that another farm in southern Tennessee had bird flu. The entire flock of birds at the Lincoln County farm, which supplied Tyson Foods, was killed. The latest chicken-breeding operation to be infected is owned by a different company, and investigators said they do not believe chickens at one farm sickened those at the other facility.

Another Associated Press article describes the second Tennessee avian influenza case as being a milder form than the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) reported at the Lincoln County farm. The USDA also said a flock of 84,000 turkeys at a Jennie-O Turkey Store farm near Barron, Wisc., had been confirmed with a low pathogenic H5N2 virus. The USDA stressed it was different from the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus that devastated the Midwest chicken egg and turkey industry in 2015, also stressing that it was not the same H7N9 virus of Chinese lineage that has sickened poultry and people in Asia, nor is it related to the virus that caused the 2015 U.S. outbreak.

U.S. producers have stepped up biosecurity in response to the new cases, as well as to ongoing outbreaks in Asia, Europe and Africa that have led to the destruction of hundreds of millions of birds and killed dozens of humans. Bird flu viruses rarely spread to humans except by close contact with infected birds, but health authorities are always alert to the possibility. Wild waterfowl such as ducks and geese are considered the main reservoirs for the avian influenza virus, so the spring and fall seasons, when birds migrate. are periods of concern. Droppings from infected birds flying north in the spring, or south in the fall, can get tracked into barns or carried in on contaminated equipment. All three farms are located in the Mississippi Flyway, one of four main migratory paths for birds heading both north and south. Read more HERE and HERE.


A reminder about the costs of contamination, intentional or otherwise: At least two consumers have found pieces of metal in ground beef products from King’s Command Foods LLC, spurring the company to recall more than 13 tons of meatballs and chicken fried steaks nationwide. In addition to having been shipped to retailers, some of the recalled products went to U.S. Department of Defense facilities and institutions across the country, according to the recall notice posted by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Thursday. Although there is no indication the contamination was intentional, this incidents serves as a reminder about just how expensive and damaging a recall caused by intentional contamination—even on a limited basis—can be. Read more HERE and HERE.

This ‘dietary supplement’ worked too well: The FDA website reports that a company called A&H Focal Inc. is voluntarily recalling all lots of a number of products being sold as “dietary supplements” in New York and New Jersey Asian markets. The products, with names like “Indian God Lotion,” “Tiger King” and “Max Man,” were marketed as being for male sexual enhancement. FDA said it has tested many of these products in the past and found they contain PDE-5 Inhibitors (i.e. sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, etc.), the active ingredient in an FDA-approved drug for erectile dysfunction (ED). Therefore, the dietary supplements are in effect unapproved drugs. FDA said the undeclared active ingredients pose a threat to consumers because PDE-5 Inhibitors may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin, and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. READ MORE


Rise of the Machine, Part II: Earlier this week the news was full of stories about a robot called Flippy that does the cooking at a fast food restaurant in California. Now, we’re hearing about robots delivering takeout food to customers. The Washington D.C. delivery service Postmates is using knee-high, six-wheeled robots to bring food to customers. The robots can travel up to four miles per hour and use sensors and cameras to navigate sidewalks and cross the street. Initially, the robots will be accompanied by a person, but eventually their progress will be monitored remotely. READ MORE