Allergy food concept. Allergy food as almonds, milk, pistachios, tomato, lemon, kiwi, trout, strawberry, bread, sesame seeds, eggs, peanuts and bean on wooden table

Cadbury will change cookie packaging because of allergen death: Confectionery giant Cadbury has vowed to make changes to its packaging, following Australian website Ten News’ investigation into its food labeling practices in the wake of a 9-year-old girl’s death. Isabel Marrero went into anaphylactic shock when her mother Helen gave her what looked like her favorite Cadbury “choc chip” cookie. Instead, she had picked up the “choc centre” cookie, which contains eggs, to which Isabel was allergic. Both cookies had purple packaging, the same design and the same typeface. READ MORE

And another allergen-related death: A popular London teen with a severe dairy allergy died after he may have been “chased with cheese and had it thrown down his top” at school, an inquest heard. Karanbir Cheema, age 13, who was allergic to wheat, gluten, all dairy products, eggs and all nuts and eggs, was asthmatic and suffered from atopic eczema. He went into anaphylactic shock at his school last June.  Another boy, also 13 at the time, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder but has not been charged. READ MORE


New biodefense strategy unveiled: White House and four federal departments have unveiled a comprehensive National Biodefense Strategy to protect the U.S. against modern biological threats, noting that the use of biological weapons or their proliferation by state or non-state actors present a significant challenge to our national security, our population, our agriculture and the environment. READ MORE

Protecting citrus trees: A system designed to protect citrus trees from the deadly greening disease withstood the ravaging winds of Hurricane Irma last year, University of Florida (UF) scientists say. With reinforcements installed after the storm, they’ll likely withstand even more dangerous storms. READ MORE

Legal fund raising funds for COOL: A perennial advocate of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for American meat is raising funds and pushing once more for reinstatement of the provision. The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF USA) has announced it has raised $50,000 to bring back COOL, which would mandate that all meat and poultry sold in the U.S. be labeled with its country of origin. A spokesperson for R-CALF estimates that when COOL was in effect (2013 to 2016)  American farmers and ranchers received $325 more per calf. READ MORE


New safety requirements for romaine: For months romaine growers, consumer advocates, researchers and government agencies have been scrutinizing factors that contributed to this year’s deadly E. coli outbreak. As of this week — about 10 days into planting for their next harvest — most growers in the implicated region are operating under new food safety requirements. The revised requirements include mandatory traceability as well as a buffer zone between growing fields and feed lots. READ MORE


DoD’s new cyber strategy: The U.S. Department of Defense has  released its 2018 cyber strategy, which outlines plans for implementing national security and defense strategies in cyberspace. The new strategy focuses on the competition with China and Russia, but also mentions North Korea and Iran. The DoD says China has been “eroding U.S. military overmatch and the nation’s economic vitality” by stealing information, while Russia has used cyber operations to influence elections. READ MORE

Cell-phone scams: Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will come from scammers, according to First Orion, a company that provides phone carriers and their customers caller ID and call-blocking technology. The Arkansas-based firm projects an explosion of incoming spam calls, marking a massive leap from 3.7 percent of total calls in 2017 to more than 29 percent this year, to a projected 45 percent by early 2019.READ MORE

China’s mass-surveillance network: It’s been in the pipeline for years: a sprawling, technological mass surveillance network the likes of which the world has never seen. China’s “Social Credit System” – which is expected to be fully operational by 2020 – doesn’t just monitor the nation’s almost 1.4 billion citizens. It’s also designed to control and coerce them, in a gigantic social engineering experiment that some have called the “gamification of trust.” READ MORE

Push on to enact federal privacy standards: The push to get Congress to enact federal privacy standards is gaining new urgency after California passed what is seen as the nation’s toughest privacy law this June. The measure forces businesses to be more transparent about what they do with consumer data and gives users unprecedented control over their personal information. The California law has sparked worries within the tech industry, which fears having to comply with a patchwork of varying state regulations. READ MORE


Is a changing climate changing our soil? A University of California- Riverside research team predicts a climate-induced reduction in the size of large soil pores, called “macropores,” which may intensify the water cycle and contribute to more flash flooding and soil erosion by the end of the 21st century. This is the first study to show that climate influences the development of macropores at short timescales, reinforcing the hypothesis that climate change will probably intensify the water cycle. Soil pores are the open space between soil particles containing gases and water.


Manure-lagoon update: According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 30 pig-manure lagoons had “overtopped” by noon on Thursday, releasing feces and urine into the environment. The lagoons, dug into the earth next to pig housing, are where the state’s more than 2,000 industrial-sized hog farms pump animal waste, which is then treated with waste-eating bacteria. The bacteria give lagoons a distinctive pink color. Overtopping of 40 more lagoons is likely. READ MORE

A marathon, not a sprint: While residents of the Carolinas grapple with the impacts of Hurricane Florence, it will be important to remember that recovery from disasters is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s been a year since 24.5 trillion gallons of water fell on Texas from Hurricane Harvey. This month, we also reach the one-year mark since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hammered the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida with winds exceeding 155 mph. READ MORE


Where are all the bugs? A staple of summer — swarms of bugs — seems to be a thing of the past. And that’s got scientists worried. Pesky mosquitoes, disease-carrying ticks, crop-munching aphids and cockroaches are doing just fine. But the more beneficial flying insects of summer — native bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs, lovebugs, mayflies and fireflies — appear to be less abundant. READ MORE

Another chicken price-fixing suit: A federal judge in Kansas has transferred a major cooperative food wholesaler’s complaint to Illinois, where another 20-some lawsuits accusing the chicken industry of price fixing already are pending, according to court documents. Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers filed its lawsuit in May, claiming major chicken processors conspired to boost prices since 2008 and seeking to recover alleged overcharges on the $2 billion worth of chicken the group purchased. READ MORE

Voluntary check-off program proposed for organic foods: The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is moving toward a “voluntary check-off” program of fee assessments to fund research into, promotion of and education about organic foods, in the wake of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision not to impose a mandatory one. USDA canceled a proposed rule to establish the program, citing a lack of consensus among industry players, especially farmers. READ MORE