Discharge of sewage into a river

ADPH, Lowndes County Health Department are targets:  The online magazine Southerly reports that the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise this morning filed a civil rights complaint against the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Lowndes County Health Department for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Filed by Earthjustice, the complaint alleges that the agencies have failed to address the onsite sewage problems in Lowndes County, Ala., or investigate hookworm, which disproportionately impacts black communities. For decades, residents of rural Lowndes County have dealt with failing onsite septic systems and straight-piping sewage directly from homes because of a lack of adequate, affordable wastewater technology. READ MORE

Regulators probe extent of environmental damage caused by floods: As the floodwaters from Florence began receding, state and federal regulators started probing the extent of the environmental damage caused by a historic storm that dumped more than 30 inches of rain on some parts of North Carolina. Here’s the latest information on a range of environmental concerns and longterm impacts of the overwhelming flooding the state received. READ MORE

Officials warn residents to stay out of coastal waters: Two weeks after Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolina coast, killing dozens and flooding rivers and homes, it has left behind a slow-moving disaster of murky waters loaded with bacteria, viruses and other pollutants. As a result, officials are warning residents to stay out of coastal waters to avoid contamination that can cause a series of infections, including earaches, hepatitis, skin rashes and respiratory issues, the North Carolina Coastal Federation said. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

North Carolina’s latest plague is giant mosquitos: A North Carolina city dealing with fallout from Hurricane Florence has been swarmed by aggressive mosquitoes nearly three times larger than regular mosquitoes. One resident, Robert Phillips, describes their rise as “a bad science fiction movie.” READ MORE

Return of flu season brings worries: U.S. health officials are trying to increase the rate of flu vaccinations this year after a severe outbreak last season killed a record number of children and led to spot shortages of antiviral medications like Tamiflu. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said it is a social responsibility to get vaccinated to halt spread of the virus. READ MORE

First-ever human case of rat disease causes concern: A Hong Kong man has developed the world’s first-ever human case of the rat version of the hepatitis E virus, according to new research from one of the city’s leading universities. There had previously been no evidence the disease could jump from rats to humans, the University of Hong Kong said, warning the discovery had “major public health significance.” READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Girl dies from allergy to sesame seeds after eating unlabeled sandwich: A teenage girl gives the thumbs up in a haunting final video taken on a British American flight moments before she died of an allergic reaction to a sandwich made by the U.K.-based Pret A Manger sandwich chain. Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s family released the heartbreaking film of the smiling 15-year-old as a coroner criticized the “inadequate” labeling on the baguette. The sandwich contained sesame seeds, to which Natasha was allergic. READ MORE

PepsiCo recalls peanuts because of aflatoxin contamination: PepsiCo has recalled the Duyvis brand of peanuts from a number of countries because of higher-than-permitted levels of aflatoxin. The peanuts were sold in Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, PepsiCo said. Aflatoxins are toxin produced by mold that occurs on improperly stored crops and is a particular problem with peanuts. READ MORE

Pests in the supply chain: FSMA has put a greater emphasis on supply chain management, as stricter regulations require food processing facilities to monitor shipments closer than ever. And plan as you might, pests are adept at infiltrating food products and contaminating shipments. Their resilience and persistence will make you pay, literally, if you’re not paying close attention. READ MORE

Not your grandfather’s rat trap: Smart rodent traps or “remote monitoring” provides a set of probing eyes and ears, working 24 hours per day, seven days a week in a food manufacturing facility or warehouse to identify the exact moment a rodent enters a trap. READ MORE

SUSTAINABILITY

Judge throws out NOAA’s fish farm rule: A federal judge in New Orleans has thrown out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s rules for fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the agency lacked authority to make them. The ruling halts a plan that would have allowed industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters, according to the Center for Public Safety, which sued NOAA. READ MORE 

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Millions still at risk: Until a week ago, the Syrian government and its Russian allies seemed set to launch a military assault on the last opposition stronghold in Idlib, and with that unleash inevitable catastrophe on the 2.5 million civilians living there and already struggling through a humanitarian crisis. Then, suddenly, the countdown slowed. An announcement by Russia and Turkey that they will create a 15-kilometer demilitarized zone free from opposition- and government-controlled forces has been greeted with relief. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

‘Meat” labeling still an issue: The National Farmers Union has sent a letter to the FDA pressing its call for federal officials to formalize the definition of protein products that are not derived from livestock and currently are labeled as cell-cultured “meat.” READ MORE

JUST INTERESTING

Deceptive crab labeling leads to charges: The owner of a Virginia seafood company has pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsely label foreign crabmeat as fresh Chesapeake blue crab. Prosecutors say the company mixed discount “distressed” crabmeat from Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere with Chesapeake blue crab, labeling it a “Product of the USA.” Court documents state Casey’s Seafood sold about 360,000 pounds of falsely labeled crabmeat from 2012 to 2015, worth $4.3 million at wholesale prices. READ MORE

So does squid sold as octopus: The father and son owners of two Long Island food processing and distribution companies have been charged with selling more than 113,000 pounds of squid falsely labeled as octopus. Prosecutors say the two imported giant squid from Peru and marketed it in grocery stores across the country as octopus, which generally has a greater retail price than squid. READ MORE