This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.
What’s going on with E.coli? Twin E.coli outbreaks in Canada and the United States that killed two people are likely not a threat anymore, the NewYork Times wrote on Thursday. That’s because the last case reported was on December 12, and the leafy greens that may have caused the illnesses are probably gone from grocery store shelves. The outbreaks have been linked in Canada to romaine lettuce and caused a total of 66 reported cases of the bacterium, which can cause severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Let’s not talk about food quite yet. Let’s talk about food workers: A newlaw in New York City has kicked in, allowing fast-food workers to contribute some of their paychecks to qualifying non-profit, nonunion workers’ groups that will help push for a higher minimum wage, the New York Times reports. Organizations that receive these contributions aren’t really unions, but they can advocate for causes that workers support. It’s no collective bargaining, but still sounds like a good stepping stone for workers’ rights, right? Wrong, says the restaurant lobby. The National Restaurant Association has filed a lawsuit against the city over the law, arguing that asking restaurants to forward employee pay to nonprofits violates freedom of speech. The food may be fast, but the rise in workers’ power is mighty slow.
And about that minimum wage: The Los Angeles Times has a story on 2017 being a record year for foreign-born, seasonal agricultural workers in California. On the rise: The federal minimum wage for these jobs and the affordability gap in wine country. Stagnant: Native-born workers and legislation to eliminate the H-2A agricultural worker visa program, probably. We previously reported on an attempt by Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee to replace the H-2A program with an H-2C visa. But considering that Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who introduced it, announced his retirement from Congress late last year, that bill is probably on the backburner’s backburner by now.
On the front burner in “The Heart of America”: DoorDash has launched in Kansas City, Missouri with 1,500 restaurants. But restaurant owners say they never opted in, according to the Kansas City Star.
And while we’re talking about restaurants: Sierra Tishgart, senior editor for New York magazine’s Grub Street, talked to WNYC’s Brian Lehrer about how some prominent men in the restaurant industry are not speaking publicly about sexual misconduct in their own restaurants, and what they should be doing to help #MeToo move forward (everything). Certainly read Tishgart’s piece for GS, but if you want a window into how painful and sometimes exasperating it is to report on an industry that has … let’s call them acknowledgment issues … the interview is worth a listen.
Sea, too? According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 70 percent of the global aquaculture workforce is female. To shine a light on that very substantial contribution to the sector, The Fish Site has launched a new series called “Women in Aquaculture” that will examine the role they play in the industry.
Sinking sales: Coca-Cola is shook. So much so, it’s rebranded its signature Diet Coke can to look a lot more like the effervescent, zero-calorie drink no one seems to be able to get enough of: LaCroix. In addition to transforming the look of the 36-year-old product, the company has announced new flavors like “twisted mango,” and “ginger lime.” Fear not: Buzzfeed reports that the signature “sugar-free” recipe has not been altered in the name of rebranding.
Speaking of soda, a recent report from the American Journal of Public Health proposes flipping the script on the existing soda tax model so that manufacturers, not consumers pay an excise tax when purchases are made. Added local taxes on sugary drinks have gained traction as a viable (though controversial) solution to lowering obesity and heart disease, despite resistance from local governments—as was the case in Chicago. But federal taxes, like the one proposed, could work similarly to the way we tax alcohol, and would perhaps incentivize companies to rethink their ingredients. We did say “perhaps.”