Illnesses correspond with romaine growing season: FDA has released a list of the California Central Coast counties it has targeted as the potential origin of E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce. Monterey, San Benito, San Lis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties were named in a Nov. 28 update on the investigation. All the counties are located on the western side of the state between San Jose to the north and Los Angeles to the south. The date of the 32 reported illnesses — from Oct. 8 through 31 — corresponds with the romaine lettuce season in Monterey and San Benito counties. Read more HERE and HERE

Blockchain and food safety: What would you like with your turkey or romaine lettuce? Some gravy? Some dressing? How about some blockchain? The blockchain technology and approach that allow you share a database, which is duplicated across a network of many, many, many computers and other devices, Initiatives such as the IBM Food Trust are trying to use blockchain to help improve food safety, which has been a particularly prominent problem this year. Read more HERE and HERE.

Number one cause of food recalls: While global market demand for “free-from” food products is increasing, undeclared and mislabeled allergens, sulphites and gluten continue to be the number one cause of consumer product recalls. This is of major concern since the number of individuals affected by life-threatening allergies is on the rise, especially in children. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

Marriott hit by data breach: If you’ve stayed at a Starwood hotel in recent years, there’s a good chance you’ve been impacted by a massive data breach that potentially exposed the personal data of about 500 million guests. Marriott — which owns Starwood hotels such as the St. Regis and the Westin — on Friday disclosed that the Starwood guest reservation system had been hacked, in a breach dating back to 2014. READ MORE

TARIFFS

China buying U.S. pork despite tariffs: China is loading up on U.S. pork, despite import tariffs imposed due to the trade war, as a highly contagious swine disease ravages the Chinese hog herd. The world’s top hog producer and pork consumer last week placed its largest order for American pork since the trade war began, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed on Thursday. READ MORE

Activist group releases list of farmers receiving tariff relief: An activist group has released a partial list of farmer recipients of tariff relief payments through the USDA’s “Market Facilitation Program.” The total of payments by  Oct. 31 was $356 million, a fraction of the promised $12 billion. About 14,200 dairy farmers appear on the list, representing less than 40 percent eligible to receive payments. Most of the tariff relief will go to soybean growers. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

Are robots the farm workers of the future? Faced with seesawing commodity prices and the pressure to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, farmer Jamie Butler is trying out a new worker on his 450-acre farm in England’s Hampshire countryside. The laborer doesn’t complain or even break a sweat. That’s because it’s a four-wheel robot dubbed “Tom” that uses GPS, artificial intelligence and smartphone technology to digitally map the field. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Red tide found off Alabama coast: Red tide, a condition that can sicken humans and kill marine life, has been found in water samples taken near the Alabama coast, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Russia greater threat than ISIS: Russia is now a “far greater threat” to the UK’s national security than the Islamic State group, says the head of the British army. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith said Britain “cannot be complacent about the threat Russia poses” because the Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

New Hampshire farm plagued by extortion, violence: Federal officials are investigating an extortion case involving a New Hampshire farm that they said has been the target of violence, threats and animal abuse. The FBI is hoping that a $10,000 reward will help solve a violent two-year mystery that centered on the Rickety Ranch in Hollis. READ MORE

Cannabis-infused beef jerky reaches Nevada: A Canadian company has delivered its first shipments of what it describes as cannabis-infused beef jerky products to licensed dispensaries in Nevada. Body and Mind Inc. in Vancouver hopes to tap into the 44 million annual visitors to the Las Vegas area with an expansion of its licensed marijuana cultivation and production subsidiary in Nevada. READ MORE