Documents show 14 outbreaks: Chipotle Mexican Grill stockholders allege that the company and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) withheld from the public information they knew about multiple foodborne illness outbreaks tied to the restaurant chain in 2014 and 2015, according to court documents. CDC documents obtained by stockholders late last month through Freedom of Information Act requests show 14 outbreaks from October 2014 through December 2016. The agency publicly reported five Chipotle outbreaks in the second half of 2015. READ MORE

EMPLOYEE SAFETY

ACLU files suit against poultry producer, alleging forced labor: The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed a class action lawsuit this week against the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program (DARP) in Oklahoma, poultry producer Simmons Foods Inc. and several other defendants that alleges seven past clients were victims of forced labor, involuntary servitude, human trafficking and fraud. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Amended ag guest worker seen as crucial: An amended agricultural guest worker bill that is seen as crucial to stabilizing the U.S. dairy labor force has cleared the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Known as the AG Act, the bill would replace the H-2A guest worker program under the Department of Labor with what is called an H-2C program overseen by USDA. Under the AG Act, 450,000 visas would be available each year for H-2C workers. Returning H-2A workers and previously unauthorized farmworkers who participate legally in the new program wouldn’t count toward the annual visa limit, according to a summary of the bill. Committee chair Michael Conway, R-Texas, said  the program respects  immigration laws yet reduces regulations and provides a flexible program to meet the needs of both specialty crop producers and dairy operations.READ MORE

To big to be sustainable? Dominant agri-food firms have become too large to feed humanity sustainably and too big to drive the types of innovation needed, according to an influential global food panel. The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES) has written to the European Commission calling for the imminent merger between Germany pharmaceutical giant Bayer and U.S.-based multinational agrochemical and biotech firm Monsanto to be urgently scrutinized. The report also highlights market concentration in several agri-food sectors, including poultry. It says three companies now supply more than 90 percent of breeding stock for broilers, laying hens and turkeys. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

California launches dam review: California is launching an overall safety review of the nation’s tallest dam to pinpoint any needed upgrades in the half-century-old structure, water officials said Wednesday, launching the kind of overarching review called for by an independent national panel of experts in September following the collapse of two spillways at Oroville Dam. READ MORE

ANIMAL FEED SAFETY

Insects likely to be important animal food source: With global protein consumption at an all-time high and expected to continue its upward trek over the next several decades, the food industry is looking at creative, alternative sources to meet this demand, including pulses, algae and insects. That’s right, those annoying protein-rich pests that are unwelcome intruders in food processing facilities such as flour mills worldwide likely will be an important ingredient in the animal feed supply in the coming years. READ MORE