Some 10 to 15 percent of our food is imported:  Increasingly globalized supply chains have led to a lack of visibility for many food companies, meaning that their businesses could be at risk. About 10 percent to 15 percent of food consumed in the United States is imported, according to Food and Drug Administration figures, with seafood, fruits, vegetables and spices among the most commonly imported products. READ MORE

About that trouble in Venezuela: The Venezuelan government’s seizure this week of a General Motors plant in that country probably has foreign, especially American, food and beverage companies fretting but not surprised, says an article in Food Processing magazine. GM’s plant was not the first foreign-owned factory seized as the government tries to control its financial collapse. The first may have been a vacant Heinz ketchup plant, all the way back in 2005. A Cargill pasta plant was taken over temporarily in 2009, and a Cargill rice plant was seized in 2014. 2015 saw the seizure of a warehouse jointly used PepsiCo, Nestle and Polar—the last being Venezuela’s largest private company and largest food company. Most American food and beverage companies appear to be distancing their Venezuelan operations from the rest of the company and preparing for the worst. READ MORE

Wisconsin dairies face closure: A Wisconsin milk processor, Greenwood-based Grassland Dairy Products, recently canceled milk contracts with nearly 60 farms, saying it lost millions of dollars when Canada changed its milk pricing policies in a way that favors Canadian farmers. That means dozens of dairy farms in the U.S. will no longer have a milk processor as of May 1. As of Friday, about 40 of those farms still didn’t have a milk buyer and face possible closure. Farmers who have been selling to Grassland are pleading for help, but most processing plants are already running at full capacity and aren’t accepting more farms. Read more HERE and HERE.

FOOD SAFETY

Yet another case of product contamination: Tampa-based Uncle John’s Pride LLC is recalling 139,909 pounds of ready-to-eat smoked meat and poultry sausage that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, according to USDA-FSIS. The problem was discovered when a metal magnet was found in the beef trim source product of the processed sausage products. READ MORE

E. coli outbreak traced to flour: The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed 27 cases of E. coli O121 infections across five Canadian provinces since November 2016 that have been linked to flour produced by Ardent Mills Canada. A 28th victim was a visitor to the country. Seven of the outbreak victims were hospitalized, but are recovering. E. coli O121 is a Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli that in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,has been responsible for outbreaks associated with flour, frozen foods, and raw clover sprouts. READ MORE

Owner ignored positive pathogen results: The owner of Walton, N.Y.-based Vulto Creamery, whose raw milk cheese has killed at least two people in a multi-state Listeria outbreak, had been getting positive results for the pathogen from his equipment and production plant for at least 20 months before he initiated a recall in March. Although owner Johannes Vulto was conducting regular swab tests of equipment and surfaces, a more than 27 percent positive rate for Listeria species did not induce him to conduct adequate follow-up testing after cleaning and sanitizing, according to the FDA inspection report. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

European operations finds lots of counterfeit liquor: More than 8,900 tons and 26.4 liters of fake food and drink worth more than $250 million have been seized during some 50,000 checks at shops, markets, airports, seaports and other sites in 61 countries. The seizures were part of Operation Opson, an Interpol-EUROPOL operation. This year, counterfeit liquor was the most seized product, followed by meat and seafood. Products detained ranged from alcohol and mineral oil to seasoning cubes, seafood, olive oil, and even caviar. READ MORE

The high price of technology: As technology takes over our lives, it’s worth thinking about this: Humans are inherently social animals, and our health suffers if we’re cut off from social ties. So it’s no wonder the so-called loneliness “epidemic” is being called a public health crisis. As we sit on the cusp of massive technological advances, the near future could exacerbate this growing problem. READ MORE