Immigration fears exacerbate farmworker shortage: Farmers from Georgia to California say they have a problem: not enough workers to harvest their crops. It’s estimated anywhere from half to three-quarters of farmworkers are in this country illegally, and some growers say that President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has made a chronic worker shortage even worse. What’s behind the farmworker shortage? For one, a stronger U.S. economy is driving many seasonal workers into better-paying, year-round work, like construction. And the upwardly mobile children of migrants are leaving the fields, many going to college and finding work in professions outside agriculture. Add to that Trump’s crackdown on immigration, which many growers complain is really crimping their labor supply. READ MORE


Hurricane not the only factor threatening Florida’s orange groves: Florida’s citrus growers were already running out of time before Hurricane Irma dealt what may be a death blow to farmers. Since 2005, when a deadly disease called citrus greening first showed up in the state, they’ve been fighting a losing battle to slow the spread of the sugar-sucking bacterium behind the scourge. Today, it has infected 90 percent of Florida’s citrus groves. Fifth-generation farmers were already abandoning their acres, packing factories were shuttering their operations, and the state was hemorrhaging a billion dollars every year. READ MORE


Filthy flood waters cause death from flesh-eating bacteria: From the moment the waters began rising in Texas last month, disease was on health officials’ minds. Floodwaters, after all, are filthy. When Hurricane Harvey finally moved north and the feet of flooding drained, hospitals saw a spike in skin and gastrointestinal infections, but Texans were spared some of the most serious illnesses that contaminated water can spread: cholera, for instance, and typhoid. On Tuesday, however, the Harris County medical examiner’s office announced that the death of a 77-year-old woman 11 days earlier had been caused by necrotizing fasciitis: a gruesome and often deadly infection commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. READ MORE

Are fatbergs the new normal? A “fatberg” made up of grease, fat, wet wipes and other garbage that slowly grew in a Baltimore sewer main is the culprit of the release of more than a million gallons of sewage into a Maryland stream last week. Baltimore’s fatberg appears modest compared to monsters dredged up in Britain. In London, Thames Water engineers this month began a three-week sewer war against a fatberg almost the length of three football fields and weighing 130 tons. In Baltimore, authorities began to smell trouble when overflows of the sanitary sewer started to become common following heavy rains. READ MORE

When a flood fills your home: It’s not just a house. It’s the place a toddler took his first wobbly steps and where a teenager, under the porch light, had her first kiss. It’s where birthday candles were blown out and countless hours spent planning for the future. And now, it’s a sodden heap of decay. A balance-sheet liability. And it’s one of tens of thousands of properties just like it devastated by disastrous floods, wind and rain swept in by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. First among the many steps of rebuilding is gutting this house — hauling out every potentially poisonous artifact of a once-stable life. READ MORE


Cookie dough maker faces class action lawsuit: Instagram’s most beloved cookie dough confectioner is facing a proposed class action alleging the not-baked goods cause foodborne illness. Cookie Dō, which boasts over 180,000 followers on the social media destination, sells cookie dough made from pasteurized egg product and heat-treated flour. “That means NO chance of foodborne illness or the risk that comes along with eating raw flour products,” the company’s website boasts. “At last, worry-free treats you can’t get sick from!”  The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, claims Dō’s products do, in fact, make people sick. READ MORE

What happens when the FDA finds serious food safety violations? Every year about 130,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with a foodborne illness, and 3,000 people die. To protect against this, the Food and Drug Administration inspects facilities that produce and handle food to ensure safety and compliance with regulations. But a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General raises some red flags about the inspections program. The report concludes that the FDA “consistently failed to conduct timely followup inspections to ensure that facilities corrected significant inspection violations.” In 17 percent of cases, the FDA did not conduct a follow-up inspection at all. And, in some instances where inspectors found significant violations, the FDA took no enforcement action at all. READ MORE

About that Codex issue: Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is making a peculiar argument for transferring the U.S. Codex Office from food safety to trade. Perdue is claiming the move will better ensure that the international standards are “grounded in science,” which is the peculiar part. The U.S. Codex Office has long reported to the USDA undersecretary for food safety, a post traditionally filled by a medical doctor or other top scientist. READ MORE


Fish fall from the sky: Officials in northeast Mexico say a light rain was accompanied by small fish that fell from the sky. The civil defence agency for the state of Tamaulipas said in a brief statement that rain Tuesday in the coastal city of Tampico included fish. Photos posted on the agency’s Facebook page show four small fish in a bag and another on a sidewalk.  According to the U.S. Library of Congress, it’s a phenomenon that has been reported since ancient times. Scientists believe that tornadoes over water — known as waterspouts — could be responsible for sucking fish into the air, where they are blown around until being released to the ground. READ MORE