Picturesque vineyard in Napa Valley, San Francisco Bay, California. Red grapes hanging in vineyard. Branch of grapes ready for harvest. Seasonal background.

Some fear wine-making region is victim of its own success: A growing coalition of wine-industry veterans and longtime residents fear that California’s Napa Valley, famed for its vineyards and wineries, has become a victim of its own success, pointing to the ecological transformation of the valley floor from dense oak woodland to a sea of vine-wrapped trellises. And they are posing a thorny question: has a unique agricultural region reached a tipping point at which agriculture itself becomes the threat? READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Cargill promotes the humble pea: Cargill, the global grains trader, sees the future of protein in the humble pea. In a joint venture at a Wisconsin plant, flour milled from Iowa yellow peas is mixed with water and spun at high speed through stainless steel drums, separating the protein from starch and fiber. The resulting powder ends up blended into waffle mixes, sports drinks, nutrition bars and protein shakes – small examples of a much larger push by the world’s biggest agriculture firms to find alternative plant-based proteins to feed people and livestock worldwide. READ MORE

Another antitrust lawsuit against poultry processors: A group of food distributors and grocery retailers has filed a new antitrust lawsuit accusing 17 of the nation’s largest poultry processors and data provider Agri Stats of conspiring to collectively reduce breeder flocks and artificially increase chicken prices between 2008 and 2016. The complaint, filed this week in U.S. District Court in northern Illinois, follows a string of similar lawsuits filed since 2016 that accuse industry participants of illegally manipulating poultry supplies to maintain high prices. READ MORE

Kroger teams up with Ocado: Teaming up with Ocado – a British firm using automated distribution centers to fulfil online grocery orders – could allow Kroger to “potentially leapfrog both Walmart and Amazon in this space,” argues one retail commentator. Ocado has partnered with companies in other countries, but says the deal with Kroger will be exclusive in the U.S. READ MORE

Tuna price-fixing leads to criminal charge: U.S. prosecutors filed a criminal charge Wednesday against the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods as part of an ongoing investigation into price fixing in the packaged seafood industry. A grand jury in San Francisco indicted Christopher Lischewski on one count of price fixing, alleging that from November 2010 to December 2013 he conspired with others in the industry to eliminate competition by setting prices for canned tuna. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Ebola outbreak could ‘explode’: Experts fear an “explosive increase” in Ebola cases after an outbreak in Congo entered a ‘new phase’ and spread to a city. The deadly virus was detected in the northwest city of Mbandaka, with a population of about 1 million people, the country’s health minister said last night. So far, the 23 deaths believed to have been caused by Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak were in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Salmonella outbreak in Georgia: Dozens of people are sick and four have been admitted to hospitals in a Salmonella outbreak in Newton County, Ga. About 70 people have reported illnesses to the county health department, according to a notice posted Thursday afternoon. Health officials said the “confirmed outbreak” was initially reported to the county on May 4. The county is east and slightly south of Atlanta. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Possible ricin attack thwarted: French authorities have thwarted a possible attack using ricin or explosives and handed preliminary terrorism charges to a young Egyptian man arrested in Paris, officials said Friday. The Egyptian man was arrested a week ago in the French capital’s 18th arrondissement, or district. Authorities found explosive powder and tutorials on how to make explosives and poison from materials such as ricin, a security official said. Authorities were tracking extremist activity on social networks when they identified the two young men, who had been communicating on encrypted messaging app Telegram. READ MORE

FOOD TECHNOLOGY

Robot cooks: The debate about whether cooking is more art or science is a never-ending one. But at Spyce, the latest culinary experiment in automation, that debate feels pretty well settled. Started by a group of 20-something robotics engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology who partnered with Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud, the new restaurant in downtown Boston is founded on the idea that a fulfilling meal can be more science than spontaneity. The restaurant’s founders have replaced human chefs with seven automated cooking pots that simultaneously whip up meals in three minutes or less. READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Venezuelan soldiers deserting: Not even Venezuela’s once-proud military is immune to the oil-rich country’s deepening economic crisis of food shortages and skyrocketing prices, and while top commanders deny there is any discontent, analysts say thousands of soldiers are asking for honorable discharges or deserting their posts by simply walking away. READ MORE

Hawaiian volcano ‘explodes’: An explosive eruption at Kilauea’s summit Thursday morning sent an ash plume soaring 30,000 feet into the air, and officials warn that ongoing emissions — and future eruptions — could send ash falling over portions of the Big Island. Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said the explosion about 4:15 a.m. at Halemaumau Crater was powerful but short-lived, which meant levels of ash dropping on surrounding communities were not as significant as officials had feared. But she stressed that additional steam-induced eruptions are possible. READ MORE