Happy New Year from the UC Food Observer! We hope your holidays were great…full of time with family, friends and good food. Here’s a brief wrap of some interesting reads you may have missed in the last week or so. Today’s focus is mostly on food safety.


Making the nation’s food system safer. Recent headlines give Americans reason to consider food safety. Listeria, salmonella and E. coli have spread through tainted ice cream, cucumbers, chicken salad and other foods. Major names like Blue Bell, Costco and Chipotle have been involved. According to the CDC, “there were 120 multi-state outbreaks involving foodborne illnesses between 2010 and 2014 — an average of one about every two weeks.” Every state reported outbreaks. More outbreaks…or better detection? And will the FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act – with some regulations slated to take effect this year – enable us to be more proactive about food safety? An interesting read by Brady Dennis for the Washington Post.


Blue Bell could face prosecution. The Department of Justice is investigating Blue Bell Creameries to determine what management knew about a listeria outbreak involving its products…and when. Three deaths have been linked to the outbreak. Reported by Jim Axelrod for CBS NewsFood safety attorney/expert Bill Marler has written Putting Prosecuting Food Producers in Perspective, which provides an excellent overview of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), the legislation under which prosecution occurs. His take? “It is time for prosecutors to set forth clear guidelines for who is prosecuted and who is not.” A must read.


Related: food adulteration scam revealed. 60 Minutes reports on the “Agromafia”…which has created an “explosion” of food crime in Italy, estimated to be worth $16B a year. “Mafia copies of fine olive oil, wine and cheese” have made their way to the U.S. The products may be laced with solvents, pesticides and may also present a serious threat for those with food allergies. In Italy, a group of “elite food police” are on the case. Bill Whitaker for CBS 60 Minutes


Is packing your lunch a New Year’s Resolution? This piece by Leslie Stephens (she’s an editor at Food52) hits several resolutions for us: reducing food waste, brown bagging lunch and healthy eating. Stephens provides twelve ideas for exciting work lunches. We like these: they are doable…not daunting. And they taste good. The recipes also use items you may already have on hand…and are budget-friendly, too. ICYMI, Stephens also recently wrote a piece about home brewing, if that’s one of your New Year’s aspirations. Both pieces appear in Grist.


Welcome back, and have a good day!