Retailers May Have Received Recalled Chicken

After months of public calls for Foster Farms chicken to be recalled due to the potential for multiple Salmonella outbreaks, the company announced on July 3, 2014 that it was issuing a voluntary recall for an undetermined number of chicken products produced on three specific dates in March 2014.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested that Foster Farms conduct the recall because the product has allegedly been linked to a specific illness of Salmonella over the past several months. The products subject to the recall include the numbers “P7632,” “P6137A,” and “P6137” that can be found inside the USDA mark of inspection. The chicken was produced from March 7 through March 13, 2014.

The products that are being removed from the market include both fresh and frozen chicken sold by private label brands or merchants under Foster Farms, with varying “use or freeze by” dates ranging from March 16 through March 31, 2014 and August 29, 2014 through September 2, 2014. Additionally, frozen Sunland Chicken products with “best by” dates from March 7 through March 11, 2014 and August 29, 2014 through September 2, 2014 are being removed from the market. Consumers will only be able to determine the dates by checking their fresh product retail packaging.

Until now, there has been no evidence that a human illness was caused due to a specific batch of chicken, despite the fact that the latest Foster Farms outbreak has been ongoing since March 2013. In fact, up until this recall, Foster Farms had reportedly refused to remove any of its products from the market, and officials for the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not have any power to enforce a recall, as they could not trace a condition or illness back to a specific lot of chicken.

The recalled products were shipped to Safeway, Kroger, Foodmaxx, Costco, and other distribution centers and retail stores in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, California, and Arizona. While it is unlikely that any of the chicken is still in circulation, people may still have some of it frozen in their freezers. The company is recommending that consumers check their packages of Foster Farms chicken for the recalled establishment number.

The Foster Farms recall comes on the heels of Food Safety news’ announcement that the most recent outbreak of Salmonella has resulted in 212 hospitalizations out of 600 official cases, the newest of which were reported by the California Department of Public Health. California, the state in which Foster Farms is headquartered, has now seen 468 of the cases, the most out of any state.

In July 2013, chicken produced by Foster Farms was reportedly linked to another Salmonella outbreak that caused at least 33 hospitalizations and sickened 134 people in 13 states. Food safety attorneys contend that the company is doing the right thing for the sake of food safety and the health of consumers throughout the U.S. Consumers are urged to consult the USDA’s website for a full list of recalled products.


Phoenix Dog Bite Attack Update: Final Hearing Set

A case that sparked anger across the Internet, divided Phoenix, Az. residents and renewed scrutiny of pit bulls ended when “Mickey” the dog was sentenced to life behind bars at the Maricopa County Jail’s no-kill animal shelter.

The dog had been in the custody of Maricopa County since February, when 4-year-old Kevin Vicente walked from his babysitter’s home into a neighbor’s yard and attempted to take a bone from the dog’s mouth. The dog responded by attacking the boy, leaving the child with a broken jaw and eye socket.

Dr. Jeffrey Salamone of Maricopa Medical Center told news reporters that a large amount of the child’s face had been ripped from forehead to jaw.

The injuries will require a number of extensive surgeries to repair the damage.

Although experts said that both the child and the dog were both doing what they naturally do, Mickey was sent to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control until a hearing could be held on whether the dog should be euthanized.

Animal rights activists were outraged, placing blame for the attack on an inattentive babysitter as well as the owner for keeping the dog chained up. The case took on a life of its own on social media, with a petition to save the dog drawing over 67,000 signatures and spawning a Facebook page devoted to sparing Mickey’s life.

Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffith said that several people shared responsibility for the incident, pointing out that there was a “Beware of Dog” sign on the fence but the gate was open and children were allowed to play around the dog.

The boy’s mother was puzzled by the concern over Mickey’s fate.

“It disturbed me at first that they placed more value on an animal than on a child, and that made me feel very bad,” Vicente told The Arizona Republic through a Spanish interpreter. “If they don’t care about (Kevin), well, I do.”

In March, the judge chose not to euthanize Mickey, but declared him vicious and ruled the dog must be neutered, defanged, microchipped and never adopted out.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio then offered to place Mickey at his no-kill shelter located in the First Avenue Jail and agreed that no taxpayer money would be used to train inmates on how to handle the dog.


Drone Injuries: Who is to Blame?

Upon an initial consideration of the word “drone,” one may think about national security efforts being carried out throughout the world and the case involving Anwar Al-Awlaki and his son, who were both fatally struck by a drone. It is easy to have the perception that drones are only used to carry out militaristic efforts and could never possibly harm a bystander; however, this perception is simply not true anymore.

The “Living Under Drones” research study published by the New York University School of Law and Stanford Law School clearly reveals the terrifying effects and injuries caused by drones used by the CIA. The study entailed over 130 interviews with Pakistani citizens terrorized by drones on a regular basis. Amongst the injuries suffered by mothers, children and workers were severe emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, lost limbs, head injuries and in the worst cases, death.

Are Commercial Drones Terrorizing Citizens?

Now, everyday citizens may find the uses of drones for commercial reasons equally as terrifying. Businesses are beginning to deploy drones as a way of sending packages and conducting aerial photography. Commercial drones may hit bystanders if an inexperienced individual operates them.

Drones have impacted other innocent people throughout the world, such as a recent case involving a triathlete in Australia. The triathlete argues that the commercial drone hit her during the event and that the operator lost control of it. Athletic events have been increasingly deploying commercial drones as a way to complete aerial photography.

No licensing process currently exists for those who operate drones. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering the creation of drone operating certifications for pilots. The FAA’s plans have not yet been revealed to the public.


Suit against PG&E Reinstated

The family of a man who suffered fatal injuries while trimming a tree has been given the green light to sue Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The California Court of Appeals ruled that the case can move forward after a district court judge ruled earlier that the company had met all required standards as set out by the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC).

Back in September 2007, Carlos Olvera had been hired to clear branches from a redwood tree. Unknown to Olvera, a high-power electric line lay hidden among the branches. After the man inadvertently made contact with the 12,000-volt line, the current struck the man, resulting in his death.

The family reached a settlement with the homeowner and the man’s employer; however, PG&E and the contracting company, the Davey Tree Expert Co., argued successfully in the lower court that they could not be sued because the distance between the line and the foliage complied with the PUC’s standard’s for distance. The district court agreed with the companies’ contention and allowed the lawsuit to be dismissed.

This month, the First District Court of Appeals out of San Francisco reinstated the lawsuit in a 3-0 ruling. In the court’s opinion, the justices ruled that a court can decide whether a sufficient amount of distance had been maintained between branches and a power line.

The court based its reasoning on the fact that the PUC had previously told utilities that more foliage may need to be cleared in order to maintain adequate safety. Therefore the court may make a judgment on whether reasonable clearance decisions had been made by the companies.

PG&E has been involved in other issues concerning safety recently. Two days after the appeal court’s ruling, a home in Carmel blew up in a natural gas explosion. Natural gas workers were apparently confused over a PG&E gas line map while attempting to hook up different lines. The blast completely destroyed the one-bedroom home. Fortunately, nobody was home and the crew suffered no injuries.
Violations of record-keeping by PG&E will make up a large part of the case currently before the PUC. Back in 2010, a spectacular natural gas explosion ripped through a San Bruno neighborhood, leveling 38 homes and killing eight people.

According to a report from radio station KPCC, PG&E pledged to fix inaccurate records after the San Bruno catastrophe. It is alleged that inaccurate records led to the 2010 explosion. Critics contend that PG&E didn’t run proper tests that would have exposed the problem.

PG&E could be fined up to $2.5 billion by the PUC.


Common Causes Of Commercial Trucking Accidents

Weighing in at up to 80,000 pounds, and stretching up to 75 feet in length, a fully loaded tractor trailer is an intimidating sight for many motorists. The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates that the nation’s 2.4 million large commercial trucks carry 11 billion tons of freight each year, and they travel a distance of over 286 million miles. While most of these miles are covered by trucks in excellent mechanical condition, operated by safe and experienced drivers, accidents involving tractor trailers are still a frequent, and often deadly, occurrence.

The most comprehensive statistics concerning truck accidents are released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, and their most recent figures make for grim reading. While the numbers of accidents is relatively low, just 3,197 in 2009, the fatality rate is very high. More concerning, is the vulnerability of passenger vehicle occupants in this type of collision. Statistics show that 85% of the 3,619 fatalities resulting from large commercial vehicle accidents were other road users. The FMCSA also released a detailed report in 2007 called the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which detailed the most frequent causes of truck accidents.

Driver error is ten times more likely to cause an accident than any other factor according to the agency. These errors often stem from drivers fatigued due to a grueling schedule and strict timetable. Many surveys have demonstrated that driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving drunk, and an excessively tired operator of an 80,000 pond vehicle is a danger to all other motorists. Making the situation even more perilous is the frequent use of prescription and illicit drugs by truck drivers to stay alert, and the lax enforcement of regulations to catch operators driving under the influence. An undercover federal investigation in 2007 found that 75% of facilities charged with drug testing truck drivers did not maintain adequate security. Other driver errors are the result of truck operators frequently negotiating unknown roads in unfamiliar areas.

The second most common cause of truck accidents is equipment failure. The nation’s highways are littered with the remnants of shredded truck tires, and tire failure frequently leads to operators losing control of their vehicles. Inadequate maintenance and improper loading are also major causes, often the result of trucking companies desperately trying to rein in costs as margins shrink while the economy slowly recovers from recession. Inexperience when loading is also a factor, and freight distributed unevenly can pose a threat as it may shift during high speed maneuvers.

The third leading cause of truck accidents is poor driving conditions, which are often caused by bad weather. Trucks are far heavier than cars and require a far greater stopping-distance in an emergency braking situation. This can become extremely dangerous when visibility is reduced, the road surface is slick or they are not given enough room to maneuver by other road users.