If China invades Taiwan, maybe so: The strategic situation relative to Taiwan will likely deteriorate in 2019, as China continues to flex its military muscle. An invasion of the country by China would prove catastrophic to the world economy and could cause the U.S. to go toe-to-toe with China. Were that to happen, the implications range from ugly to really ugly.  One must wonder if economic warfare (a distinct possibility in both directions) would not begin simultaneously with an invasion. Critical infrastructures in the U.S. would also likely be targeted. One might also suspect that debt payments would rapidly be suspended.  The effect of that on the Chinese economy, which is currently not particularly healthy, could be significant. Only time will tell the next moves. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

Robots come to campus: Forget vending machines, PepsiCo is testing a way to bring snacks directly to college students. The chip and beverage maker says it will start making deliveries with self-driving robots on Thursday at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Students will be able to order Baked Lay’s, SunChips or Bubly sparkling water on an app, and then meet the six-wheeled robot at more than 50 locations on campus. READ MORE

And to processing plants: The meat industry has been talking up automation and robotics for more than a decade, but the drip, drip, drip of adoption in beef, pork and poultry plants has never matched the headlines. The hype has gotten closer to reality in the past year, however, driven in large part by a desperate need for skilled and unskilled workers. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Hurricane’s effect on NC water treatment systems: During Hurricane Florence, some 121 million gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage flooded at more than 200 water treatment systems in North Carolina. That’s equal to 200 Olympic size swimming pools filled with sewage, and nearly a third more feces, urine, dishwater and other household waste leaked than officials first reported, the Charlotte News-Observer reports. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Wild Florida monkeys secrete dangerous virus: Wildlife managers in Florida say they want to remove roaming monkeys from the state in light of a new study saying that some are excreting a virus that can be dangerous to humans. Scientists studying a growing population of rhesus macaques in Silver Springs state park say that rather than just carrying herpes B, which is common in the species, some have the virus in their saliva and other bodily fluids, posing a potential risk of spreading the disease. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Georgia farmers suffer: Many of the people in Georgia who grow your food and other essentials had a brutal run of it in 2018. Their woes are caused by many sources: Hurricane Michael’s devastating winds, persistent rain that delayed and spoiled harvests, troubling freezes that tricked fruits, and plummeting prices for farmers, sparked by Chinese tariffs and a deluge of cheaper competition from Mexico. READ MORE

Another company joins chicken lawsuit: Coral Gables, Fla.-based Quirch Foods has joined multiple plaintiffs and chicken purchasers including foodservice and supermarket giants, claiming that since 2008 the nation’s largest broiler-processing companies have manipulated poultry supplies to boost prices. READ MORE

Cargo thieves like to target food: Food is very fungible, says Tony Pelli, supply chain risk consultant at London-based BSI Group, a 117-year-old global business standards company. According to the dictionary, that means it’s interchangeable. For cargo thieves, that makes food a desirable target. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

Chinese app collect ‘unusual amount’ of data: A popular weather app built by a Chinese tech conglomerate has been collecting an unusual amount of data from smartphones around the world and attempting to subscribe some users to paid services without permission, according to a London-based security firm’s research. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Food safety still a big issue: Ten years ago, one of the most extensive food recalls in the U.S. forced more than 360 companies to recall more than 3,900 peanut products across 46 states. Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) was the cause for one of the most massive and lethal foodborne contamination cases in the U.S., killing nine and sickening thousands. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), was enacted in large part in response to the PCA recall, but the recent recalls of romaine lettuce and ground beef show food safety is still a big issue. READ MORE

Food safety inspections, etc., continue during recall: Crucial federal food safety inspections, recalls, and investigations are continuing despite partial shutdown of government. Here’s the situation regarding food safety on Day 13 of the partial government shutdown: As yet, there are no worries. READ MORE

Alabama company recalls sausages: Alabama’s R. L. Zeigler Co.  recalled more than 11,600 pounds of ready-to-eat poultry and meat sausages  Sunday after receiving consumer complaints about metal in the product, according to USDA-FSIS. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Have you heard of ‘Seattle-ization’? “Seattle-ization” is a thing now, at least according to a New York Times article published last week. It’s described as “a particularly dire diagnosis,” and characterized by high housing costs and tech wealth, a combination that’s thoroughly transformed the city in an alarmingly short span of time. READ MORE

These food trucks sold guns, too: Sandwiches weren’t the only things being sold out of Chicago’s Finest Deli on Wheels, the feds say. In 2015, an undercover federal agent bought 24 stolen guns stashed in the food truck, according to prosecutors. The deal was the beginning of a three-year investigation that resulted in drug-conspiracy charges against three men in October. READ MORE