The Environmental Working Group's searchable map of water utilities.

A screenshot of the Environmental Working Group’s searchable map of water utilities.

Radium in water in all 50 states: More than half of all Americans could be drinking tap water tainted with a radioactive element. A new report from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds more than 170 million people are exposed to radium in their drinking water, which could increase the risk of cancer.  The EWG used state water records to compile the study and to create a searchable map of water utilities. Radium was found in all 50 states, with 158 public water systems in 27 states reporting “radium in amounts that exceeded the federal legal limit.” The state with the most widespread contamination, according to EWG, is Texas. Read more HERE and HERE.

FOOD SAFETY

More Hepatitis A: A foodservice worker in Hawaii may have exposed customers of a Honolulu restaurant to the hepatitis A virus during a five-week period ending Jan. 6. Health officials say the case is likely not related to a multi-state outbreak that has sickened 1,500 and killed almost 5. READ MORE

ANIMAL HEALTH

Lawsuit claims Walmart lied: A lawsuit has been filed in a California district court against two of the biggest companies in the country: Walmart and Cal-Maine Foods. The lawsuit claims that Walmart and Cal-Maine—the latter is one of the biggest egg producers in the US—lied to customers about the treatment of hens whose eggs were sold at Walmart. The alleged lie? The packaging claimed “outdoor access,” yet the birds are not permitted to go outside. READ MORE 

FOOD SECURITY

Sweet news for beekeepers: Police delivered sweet news to the owners of a small Sioux City honey business Wednesday, nearly a month after vandals killed their half million bees and nearly wiped out their livelihood. Wild Hill Honey owners Justin and Tori Englehardt went to check on their 50 hives on the morning of Dec. 28 and found them all destroyed, resulting in more than $60,000 in damage to the business. The police department said Wednesday two boys, ages 12 and 13, have been arrested in connection with the incident. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Terrorists turning to dark web: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as self-radicalized individuals in the West, to access a larger assortment of arms, explosives material and expertise from the comfort and anonymity of their home computers. READ MORE

FOOD & CRIME

Cocaine concealed in pineapples: Spanish and Portuguese police say a joint operation resulted in the seizure of 1,642 pounds of cocaine, much of it allegedly concealed inside pineapples shipped from Latin America. The Iberian police forces announced the big drug bust on Wednesday. They said it unfolded over several months, led to nine arrests and broke up an international smuggling ring led by Colombians. READ MORE

REGULATION

USDA proposes to change organic requirements: The National Organic Program that stands behind those USDA Organic seals on processed and fresh foods in the grocery store comes with a lot of fine print. Most consumers don’t know much about it, but for the $50 billion organic marketplace, it’s all about the details. And the latest changes in those details,known as the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances or just the National List, were proposed Thursday by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). USDA is proposing to change restrictions on 17 substances allowed in organic production or handling: micronutrients, chlorhexidine, parasiticides, fenbendazole, moxidectin, xylazine, lidocaine, procaine, methionine, excipients, alginic acid, flavors, carnauba wax, chlorine, cellulose, colors and glycerin. READ MORE

Organic retailers protest organic poultry, livestock rule: Earlier this month, some of the country’s leading producers, retailers, and certifiers in the organic food space took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to publish an open letter. The letter attacks the Trump administration’s decision to nix the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule which was formed after several years of consultation and legislative work and was designed to clearly define guidelines for animal welfare in organic-certified products. READ MORE

USDA also proposes changes to meat inspection regs: USDA is proposing to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments. READ MORE

Lawsuit alleges USDA helps meatpackers mislabel imported beef: Cattlemen groups have reinforced arguments in a lawsuit they filed in June alleging that USDA is unlawfully helping meatpackers mislabel imported beef as “Products of the USA” and thereby reducing the income of domestic cattle producers. The groups state that they are not seeking to reinstate COOL, which required country-of-origin labeling on all meat products, including imports and domestic. Rather, they say they want USDA to enforce the full letter of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which incorporates the Tariff Act of 1930. READ MORE