Closeup portrait of pretty young caucasian woman brunette choosing green lettuce salad leaves vegetables in supermarket store.

E. coli outbreak highlights traceability problems: The romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak highlights problems with traceability in the American food chain. A plastic container or bag of mixed lettuce, for example, could contain lettuce from all over the country, with no requirement to label each source on the container. A typical blend of romaine, spring lettuce, and spinach might actually be sourced from six or more farms across the U.S., and this is an issue in practically all foods that Americans regularly consume. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

More E. coli infections from lettuce: Ten Minnesota residents not yet included in the national case count have E. coli O157:H7 infections from romaine lettuce, state officials said Tuesday. Following the May 6 report on one case in North Dakota, also not yet included in the national count, it appears the romaine outbreak continues to expand. The cases are from both Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and greater Minnesota counties; 90 percent are female. Three people have been hospitalized. Two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal complication that can include kidney failure and other severe problems. READ MORE

Think like a criminal: Food fraud is on the increase, and food fraud cases threat consumer trust in products and services. Companies are learning to “think like criminals” and put in place measures to prevent fraud and protect their products, their brands and their consumers. READ MORE

In California, coffee labels have to include cancer warnings: A California judged issued a final ruling that requires coffee companies to label their products with a cancer warning in California, the Washington Times reports. The decision supports a 2010 suit filed by Council for Education and Research on Toxics that argued coffee products should notify consumers that the known carinogen acrylamide is produced during the coffee roasting process. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Ebola, again: Seventeen people in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have died from Ebola, the health ministry said on Tuesday, describing the fresh outbreak as a “public health emergency with international impact.” A total of 21 cases of fever with haemorrhagic indications and 17 deaths have been recorded in Equateur province, according to the ministry’s report. This is the DRC’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the deady viral disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team. READ MORE

‘Vog’ may be next threat for Hawaiians: After earthquakes and molten lava tore open the earth, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island have new threats to worry about: hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain. The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities. Officials have warned of dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas. If winds weaken, that gas and other volcanic pollutants can settle easily with moisture and dust to create a haze called volcanic smog, or “vog,” with tiny sulfuric acid droplets that can pose respiratory problems. READ MORE

WEATHER

Brrr! April was cold: Temperatures in the contiguous United States were 2.2 degrees below 20th century averages last month, making it the coldest April in 20 years, according to the government analysis released Tuesday. April also was particularly generous with snowfall. The calculated monthly snow-cover was the fifth-largest in the 52-year dataset , according to the Rutgers University Snow Lab. READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Venezuelan situation deteriorates: The situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, expanding the humanitarian crisis. Other nations in Central and South America are showing signs of economic stress, which if exacerbated by bad decision making, as it was in Venezuela, could lead to new humanitarian crises. Argentina, for example, has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund to seek a financial aid package, 17 years after the country defaulted on its debt and 12 years after cutting ties with the fund. President Mauricio Macri announced that talks with the IMF are “a preventative measure.”  READ MORE