Month: August 2018

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Advocacy groups are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to name the turkey suppliers and brand names involved in a recent salmonella outbreak in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Consumer Reports was one of several groups which put pressure on the USDA Wednesday, urging the agency to name all the turkey brands which had issues with drug-resistant strains of salmonella poisoning as the Thanksgiving holiday comes next week.

The CDC said the current strain of salmonella poisoning had been found in live turkeys, turkey pet food, and raw turkey products throughout Minnesota. Several meat processors and slaughterhouses also found the strain in raw turkey products.

“The USDA should immediately make public which turkey producers, suppliers, and brands are involved in this outbreak — especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner,” Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “This information could save lives and help ensure consumers take the precautions needed to prevent anyone in their home from getting sick.”

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) responded Thursday, stating that the agency had not identified the source of the outbreak and criticized the organizations calling for the agency to name turkey suppliers without hard evidence of a link to the illness.

“If FSIS had the ability to identify the source of this Salmonella strain, then the agency would immediately recall the items,” the agency stated. “If we had specific products that we could alert consumers with a Public Health Alert, we would issue one.”

The FSIS also reiterated that officials are working with state and federal health officials and reassured consumers that turkey products are safe.

“In the meantime, it’s important that consumers know they can purchase and safely consume these products,” the agency added. “The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world and USDA works every day to ensure it.”

Consumer Reports argued that the USDA needs to release the names of the turkey suppliers linked with salmonella outbreaks so consumers can better inform themselves.

However, Consumer Reports said it is not looking for people to go “cold turkey” on the popular Thanksgiving poultry so long as people are careful cooking and handling the turkeys.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include fever, diarrhea, and stomach aches which develop 12 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacterial strain.

Most people get better within four to seven days without seeking medical attention, but sometimes the illness becomes so severe that those sickened with the illness require hospitalization.

The latest outbreak of salmonella poisoning began in November 2017. As of November 5, 164 people across 35 states came down with salmonella poisoning, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These instances of salmonella poisoning killed one person in California and sent sixty-three to the hospital, according to the CDC.

The CDC says that the states with the most instances of salmonella poisoning include New York, Illinois, Texas, and Minnesota.

This is not a test of the emergency broadcast system. The housing market just sent up the clearest distress signal since the Federal Reserve began raising rates.

Sentiment among homebuilders dropped 8 points in November to 60 in the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Economists had expected it to remain unchanged at 68.

The November reading is the lowest since August 2016, when the economy appeared to hit an air-pocket prior to the election of Donald Trump. Last year, the index was at 69 in November and headed toward its December high point of 74.

The problem is affordability. Rising interest rates combined with high home prices have put new homes out of reach for many Americans.

The current sales component of the homebuilder’s index fell 7 points to 67. The expectations for sales component crashed 10 points. Buyer traffic dived 8 points to 45, deep into negative territory in the index where scores above 50 indicate expansion.

Mortgage rates have gone up a full percentage point over the last 12 months, thanks largely to the Federal Reserve’s policy of raising its overnight target and shrinking its balance sheet of government debt and government-sponsored mortgage bonds.

Homebuilding has a large impact on the economy because it employs workers in a variety of trades and new home purchases tend to drive sales of everything from home appliances to electronics and even cars.

By region, the South and West, often the harbingers of housing nationwide, were both sharply lower at 65. The Midwest and Northeast at 52 were both also sharply lower.

The index reading was so low that many wondered if it was a misprint or simply an anomaly. This week will feature an array of housing data that should clarify if the NAHB index properly read the housing market.