Collage of seven people screaming from close

Restaurants should plan to diffuse situations: Hyper-partisanship is creating a supercharged atmosphere, where restaurants are increasingly becoming political battlegrounds. Confrontational events are damaging restaurant reputations and discouraging business. Restaurants need to prepare for contingencies, should partisan arguments and confrontations erupt. The main focus should be strategies designed to quickly diffuse the heated situation, by quickly separate the disputing parties. It is important to remember that these events are often not spontaneous, but are planned to maximize the sensational aspects, for instant-play on social media. The restaurant brand can be hurt if the offending or offended party believes that restaurant management is somehow complicit with one or the other side and therefore inadequate in its response. On Friday, for example, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife DOT secretary Elaine Chao, were confronted by a group of men at Havana Rumba in Louisville, Ky. READ MORE or WATCH VIDEO.

FOOD SAFETY

No, man who ate squirrel brains didn’t die of vCJD: Last week, it was widely reported in the press that a man with a history of eating squirrel brains had died of vCJD, or variant Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease. The reporting of this case as probable vCJD, which in the past has been linked to consumption of beef contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as “mad cow disease”) and suggesting the case might be linked to squirrel consumption was inappropriate and might cause alarm, according to a statement from the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center. The original diagnosis was based on MRI results, all other clinical and demographic evidence strongly suggested sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), which occurs randomly at a rate of about one per one million people annually. Autopsy later confirmed the man’s death was caused by sCJD, not vCJD. Both diseases are caused by misfolded bits of protein known as prions, but the sporadic variety is not linked to food. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Hurricane caused staggering ag losses: The Georgia Department of Agriculture estimates farm damages after Hurricane Michael to be as high as $2.8 billion. Meanwhile, in North Florida, timber industry losses alone are almost half that amount. The Florida Department of Agriculture estimates Michael damaged three million acres of timberland to the tune of $1.3 billion. READ MORE

Milk production up, but not cow numbers: The biggest news in the dairy world on Friday was USDA’s release of the September milk production report. Year-over-year production in the month of September rose 1.3 percent over 2017 numbers, and that came entirely from growth in production per cow. Cow numbers were a different story. READ MORE

Global consumption also lags: Continual production growth has required strong demand to soak up the additional milk. While domestic demand was usually adequate to take up the supply, in recent years we’ve relied on global demand to contain the growing production. Production has continued to grow throughout 2018, but the global demand  hasn’t kept up enough to strengthen prices. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Chinese fentanyl is leading cause of opioid deaths: Fentanyl produced in China is being smuggled into the U.S. at such alarming levels that it is now the leading cause of opioid overdoses, killing nearly 29,000 Americans last year. A recent U.S. indictment of a Shanghai gang has exposed how the deadly network works. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

About that Facebook hack: When Facebook announced at the end of September that it had suffered a data breach that ultimately affected 30 million accounts, it seemed, perhaps, like the work of sophisticated nation state hackers. But a new report from The Wall Street Journal suggests spammers as the culprit instead. Criminals can do a great deal of damage with the kind of information stolen from Facebook. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Recall highlights challenges for food businesses and their insurers: The impact of Arizona beef distributor JBS Tolleson’s recent recall of nearly seven million pounds of ground beef sold nationwide has yet to be determined. The recall, prompted by 57 cases of Salmonella across 16 states, will likely lead to a loss in profits, supply chain losses and potential reputational damage. This recall highlights some major challenges for food businesses and their insurers. READ MORE