Illegal tobacco generates big profits: Where does North Korea, whose gross domestic product is less than that of some American cities, get the money to fund its nuclear efforts? Kim Jong-un and his regime obtain much of their money from a vast series of criminal enterprises that trade in everything from goods made by forced labor to counterfeit currency to narcotics. And like many insurgent groups and criminal organizations worldwide, Kim and his circle also traffic in illegal tobacco. Smuggling tobacco products so they may be sold without the high taxes and tariffs that prevail in many countries is big business: globally, tens of billions of dollars a year. READ MORE


Where does all that toxic hurricane waste go? Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left a mess—millions of tons of debris, much of it toxic. Houston officials said this week it will cost at least $200 million to dispose of eight million cubic yards of storm debris. More than 100,000 homes in Houston are damaged. Irma caused billions of dollars of damage across the Caribbean and southeastern United States. Wood, plaster, drywall, metal, oil, electronics—all of it waterlogged. Put it into unlined landfills and it can contaminate groundwater. The gypsum in drywall decomposes into hydrogen sulfide gas. So where will it all go? READ MORE

FDA proposes to extend FSMA ag water compliance dates: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a rule to extend the agricultural water compliance dates that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  If the rule is finalized, it would provide an additional two to four years to the original compliance dates. The new agricultural water compliance dates that are being proposed calls for the largest farms to comply by January 26, 2022. Small farms would have until January 26, 2023, and very small farms would have until January 26, 2024, before compliance is required.  READ MORE

E. coli shuts down beach restaurants: Anyone hoping to grab a late supper or snack over the weekend in Atlantic Beach, N.C., was out of luck. Thirty restaurants in the barrier island community voluntarily closed Friday at the request of local officials because E. coli had been found in the town’s water supply.  The water department discovered the E. coli contamination when routine monthly sampling last week showed the bacteria at higher levels than allowed by state law. Until further notice, no one in Atlantic Beach should use tap water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or preparing food unless the water is boiled for at least one minute, according to the water department order. READ MORE


Threat to clubs, restaurants underscored: Once again underscoring the potential threat to restaurants and clubs posed by bad actors, The French interior minister says a plan to attack gay nightclubs in Paris was among a dozen terrorist plots foiled by police this year.. Gérard Collomb told a National Assembly committee last week that an attack targeting the LGBT community in the French capital had been thwarted on Aug. 22. He said the planned “violent action” targeted “Paris nightclubs, targeting in particular gay establishments.” It could have repeated the horrific loss of life suffered at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where 49 people were killed by an Islamic State-inspired gunman. READ MORE


FDA sends warning letters: A Kentucky cattle feed manufacturer, a Vermont cheese processing facility, and a New York supplement facility are all on notice from the Food and Drug Administration for violations of federal food safety rules. The FDA sent the warning letters to the companies in August and September, and posted them for public view in recent days. READ MORE

Former employee sues Shake Shack, alleging food safety violations: A former employee is suing New York burger chain Shake Shack, claiming the restaurant fired him for raising concerns over health and safety issues at a location in New York City’s financial district location. Derrick Via is seeking $1 million in damages. Via, who worked for the company five years and had been promoted several times, said he noticed serious health and safety violations, including allowing sick employees to work and handle food, improper cleaning of the kitchen and equipment, failure to train on food allergies, and more. He claims that rather than address the safety concerns, the company fired him. READ MORE


Florida kids will get free school meals: All students in affected disaster areas in Florida will now be able to enjoy free school meals provided by USDA’s National School Lunch Program through Oct. 20. To further streamline program administration, schools and facilities in these areas can temporarily serve meals that do not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements through Oct. 20.  USDA is also providing flexibility regarding when kids can be fed, given the preparation challenges caused by the natural disaster. READ MORE


Key residents find devastation upon returning home: Late Saturday evening, Matt Finn was using his pocketknife to rip the waterlogged drywall out of his Big Pine Key Home. His mattress was set up outside on his back lawn. His generator powered his coffee maker. Some of his most prized possessions — including a stuffed baby alligator his grandfather gave him — were drying in the hot Florida air. And he was the lucky one. He pointed to the Gulf of Mexico and said, “Between me and the open water, there were three more houses. There’s nothing there.” READ MORE

Stay, or go? Ten days after Hurricane Irma turned St. Martin into a jigsaw of ripped metal and shattered wood, residents were still struggling with an existential question: Should they cling to an island that can barely support life or start over elsewhere? Irma hit the shared Dutch and French Caribbean island as a Category 5 hurricane with winds in excess of 200 miles an hour, turning the picturesque tourist haven into a sweltering trash heap without power, water or communications. What the hurricane didn’t steal, looters often did. READ MORE