Senior Couple Eating Meal And Talking

Americans seeking fresher, healthier foods: Significant shifts in U.S. demographics will by necessity cause changes in food marketing and product development. Americans on the whole are looking for fresher, healthier food products. Baby boomers are frequently willing to pay premium prices for food they perceive as better. Younger consumers are also looking for many of the same products, but don’t have the buying power that older Americans do. Health considerations in food will become a greater issue than they already are. Diabetes and “pre-diabetes” rates are soaring. Americans as a whole suffer from an unacceptable rate of obesity, which is a huge contributor to the diabetes problem. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Connecting the dots on meat recalls: Two recent recalls of meat possibly contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 highlight the complexity of our food system and the need for traceability and transparency. One company—Majestic Meat Co., based in Salt Lake City—on Nov. 15 announced the recall of more than 500 pounds of ground beef products headed for restaurants in the state. FSIS noted the problem was discovered after a sample had been shipped. Coincidentally (or maybe not) that same day, Swift Beef Co. in Hyrum, Utah, announced the recall of some 50 tons of ground beef products for the same reason. The problem was discovered when FSIS visited Swift Beef Co. “in response to a FSIS ground beef sample that was collected at a further processing establishment.” The Swift Co. beef was sold to companies in five states for further processing or distribution, but none of those companies have been identified. READ MORE

Investigation of romaine continues: The CDC, the FDA and public health and regulatory officials continue to investigate a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections using the PulseNet system, the national sub-typing network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. Whole genome sequencing performed on the bacteria from ill people in this outbreak has shown closely related strains, indicating a likely common source.  Read more HERE and HERE.

And this is the third time in the last year: It’s worth noting that this is the third E. coli outbreak in the past year to involve romaine lettuce or leafy greens. Early betting is that the lettuce came from the Monterrey County in California, which grows about half of U.S. romaine. Ill people in this new outbreak were infected with E. coli that shares a DNA fingerprint with the strain isolated  in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy greens in the United States and to romaine lettuce in Canada. READ MORE

But FDA may revise labels to aid in tracing: In a trio of tweets Nov. 23, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb referred to plans to allow romaine to return to the market, and a possible new labeling standard to aid in tracing products in future outbreaks. READ MORE

Packaging reveals whether food is safe: Scientists at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, have designed and produced biodegradable plastic packaging called Plasticor that shows if food inside is fit for consumption. READ MORE

Manslaughter convictions in allergy case: Careless disregard for food allergens led to a 15-year-old girl’s death in England and manslaughter convictions for two employees of an Indian restaurant. The employees were sentenced to jail earlier this month. Nut allergy sufferer Megan Lee died in early 2017 from an asthma attack after she ate food with peanut protein, even though she had alerted the restaurant to her problem. READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Hunger in Venezuela: Around 80 percent of Venezuelans are now short of food, according to the new data compiled by Human Rights Watch, an NGO. Following a trip to the Venezuelan border with Brazil by a team of health experts from John Hopkins University, researchers found that malnutrition continues to rise aggressively, with 80 percent of households unable to access enough food. HERE and HERE.

And devastation in Florida: Tommy Hamilton’s wife told him they would not ride out the storm at their house. She won the argument, which was fortunate. The Hamiltons will never live in that house again just outside Marianna, Fla. Hurricane Michael dropped too many trees on the house and the wind blew too much of it away. What happened to the Florida Panhandle the second week of October had never happened before. Not on this scale. SEE SLIDESHOW

GLYPHOSATE CONTROVERSY

Second glyphosate trial scheduled: A California judge last week granted an expedited trial in the case of a California couple suffering from cancer who sued Bayer AG’s Monsanto unit, alleging the company’s glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup caused their disease. The ruling clears the way for the second California jury trial over glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weed killer. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

Keep an eye on Parliament-Facebook dispute: The British Parliament has obtained a set of internal Facebook documents the company had fought for months to stop from being made public, a significant move that bears watching. Facebook has collected a monumental amount of data on virtually everyone, and this data has been compromised and exploited on numerous occasions—many times without the knowledge of users and non-users. Parliament is reached the end of its tolerance and will likely act upon the seized documents in the next year. This move could very much change social media, in a time when large numbers of Americans are moving off platforms such as Facebook. Read more HERE and HERE.

Did China step up hacking before meeting? A U.S. government report ahead of a meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping accuses China of stepping up hacking aimed at stealing American technology as a tariff dispute escalated. The two sides have raised import duties on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in the fight over U.S. complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

EPA Southeastern Division and those ethics charges: EPA’s Southeast branch is notoriously tough to manage. For starters, it’s huge. Everything from the Appalachian Mountains to the Everglades swamps is under the purview of EPA’s largest region. The Atlanta-based office oversees eight states, more than any other region. Now EPA’s Southeast office is facing its latest hurdle: The regional administrator just resigned after being indicted on ethics charges. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Working to reduce water consumption by crops: With approximately 80 percent of our nation’s water supply going towards agriculture, it’s fair to say it takes a lot of water to grow crops. In a climate with less predictable rainfall patterns and more intense droughts, scientists at the University of Illinois (U of I) are working to reduce water consumption by developing more efficient crops. READ MORE

IMMIGRATION

A third of meat-processing employees are immigrants: The percentage of jobs in the meat processing industry that are filled by foreign-born employees is twice that of the U.S. as a whole — about 35 percent of meat industry employment, compared with 17 percent nationwide, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. But capacity in the processing industry is expanding rapidly, and immigration flows are a fraction of what they were in the 1980s and into the 2000s. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Bloodshed in Pakistan: A suicide bomb attack on a crowded festival and market in northwest Pakistan’s northwest killed at least 25 people on Friday and wounded 20, a government official said. The blast occurred at around the same time that three attackers tried to storm the Chinese consulate in the southern city of Karachi. READ MORE

WEIRD STUFF

Rat-cooking video goes viral: A Hawaii-based burger joint fired two of its employees and closed briefly after a video showed an employee cooking a rat on the burger grill. The video, which was posted on Snapchat and Facebook, showed two employees of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Honolulu cooking with a spatula what appeared to be a rat next to a beef patty on one of its burger grills. READ MORE