A group of curious kids petting newborn piglets in a children's farm in the Netherlands

The benefits of growing up in a rural environment: Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Hep A outbreak involves mainstream population: As additional states report growing numbers of hepatitis A, officials continue to point primarily to cases among people who are homeless and/or substance abusers and their close direct contacts. However, there are increasing reports of infected people who are neither homeless nor substance abusers. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Friend-finder feature connects terrorists: Facebook has helped introduce thousands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) extremists to one another, via its “suggested friends” feature, a UK newspaper reports. The social media giant—which is already under fire for failing to remove terrorist material from its platform —is now accused of actively connecting jihadists around the world, allowing them to develop fresh terror networks and even recruit new members to their cause. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

‘Romaine’ calm: Sorry California growers, but if the E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce  (supposed to be caused by lettuce only from Yuma, Ariz.) is hurting your sales, maybe the Leafy Green Marketing Associations should start pressuring for more accurate labeling as to point of origin. The association was formed after the 2006 E coli-contaminated spinach outbreak from the Salinas Valley. Or maybe FDA could promulgate some rules and regs requiring that information on a label? READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

When the water runs out: Cape Town, South Africa’s drought was officially declared a national disaster a couple of months ago, but even last year it was bad enough that using the municipal supply to water your garden was tantamount to taking out an advertisement in the newspaper that read, “I Don’t Care at All About Other People, the Environment, or Anything Except My Thirsty Hydrangeas.” READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Wisconsin’s dairy crisis: Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 — down 20 percent from five years ago. Last month, more than 50 groups from across the country — including the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Family Farm Defenders and the National Family Farm Coalition — asked Congress for emergency relief from the deepening troubles on small dairy farms. They want the government to set a minimum price that farmers would get for their milk — at a break-even point of $20 per hundred pounds, or about 11 gallons, compared with $13 paid in some months of the downturn. READ MORE

EMPLOYEE SAFETY

Don’t increase line speeds, pork workers say: Over 6,500 pork plant employees who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union submitted comments to USDA objecting to a proposed rule that would increase the line speeds where they work. Concerns about the safety of pork line workers prompted 63 members of Congress this month to ask USDA officials to withdraw the Swine Slaughter Inspection Modernization Rule. READ MORE