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World Cup Food Safety

Tuesday May 27, 2014
Food Removal As much as the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, has little to do with supply chain. The food supply seems to be a bit of an issue. The Brazilian health and safety authorities have removed several food items that were well past their sell-by dates. From the hotel that is housing the English football (soccer) team; 2.6kg of salmon, parma ham and butter was removed as it was deemed unfit for consumption.

The Italian team was saved from over 50 kilograms of foodstuffs that were also deemed unfit for consumption, including 25kg of seafood. Overall health and safety officials removed 218kg deemed unfit for consumption from thirteen locations. The only hotel to escape the unfit food was the one housing the Netherlands team. Do we smell a conspiracy or bad seafood?

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More Food Recalls

Monday May 19, 2014
Food Recall Kraft has volunteered to recalling 1.2 million cases of four brands of cottage cheese products due to improper storage. The cottage cheese was produced at the Tulare plant in Califronia, just south of Fresno. The company says that the ingredients were not stored at the correct temperature and that this could create conditions that could lead to premature spoilage or some kind of foodborne illness.

Krafts recall is many this month with a nationwide recall of Bravo pet food, and a rash of recalls due to undeclared ingredients in food products, such as undeclared eggs, peanuts, and milk in Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners.

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Swiss Vote on $25 Minimum Wage

Friday May 16, 2014
Swiss Minimum Wage Fast food workers protested to get a $15 minimum wage yesterday, but in Switzerland they are considering increasing the minimum wage to $25 an hour, making it the best place in the world for low-income, unskilled workers. The vote before the Swiss on Sunday may be good news for low paid workers, or be a determent.

If the $25 an hour minimum wage is approved, then employers would have to figure out how they are going to pay for this. Obviously, they can increase costs, which is not popular with consumers. They can slow down hiring, which would probably mean the minimum wage earners will be working harder and longer. But what worries some workers and politicians is that the increase could lead to employers shedding jobs, which is bad for workers and tax revenues.

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Fast Food Workers Go On Strike

Thursday May 15, 2014
Minimum Wage Across the US thousands of fast food workers are striking to demand a raise in their minimum wage to $15. This would more than double the hourly wage for many workers. The one-day strike is expected to be supported by fast food workers in 150 cities across the US. The protest could be reciprocated in as many as 30 countries worldwide, where fast food workers earn significantly less than those in the US.

Despite the protests, fast food restaurants are unlikely to heed to the workers requests. The minimum wages are set by the state or city and owners are unlikely to increase wages much above the required levels. The demand for a $15 an hour wage would mean that consumers are the ones to pay for the increase, with food prices rising substantially. A scenario that is unlikely to happen without state or federal intervention.

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Recycleable Packaging

Thursday April 24, 2014
Recyclable packaging After Walmart announced that it expects its vendors to provide goods that have recyclable packaging, Colgate-Palmolive has announced that it has committed to making 100 percent of its packaging fully recyclable for three out of four product categories by 2020. These will be products in the pet, home and personal care categories. It has also agreed to reduce the amount of PVC it uses in its packaging, and increase the average recycled content in other packaging.

Although many companies are making commitments to either reduce packaging or make it more recyclable, the figures from the EPA show that recycling is underutilized. EPA statistics show US recycling levels are less than 35 percent and have not improved in the past 15 years. To make matters worse, a recent report indicates that recycling levels in the US are declining.

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Air Cargo Still Volatile

Monday April 14, 2014
Airlines Fight For Cargo Although there is some evidence that the air cargo market is making some kind of improvement, many airlines that operate air freighters are having a terrible time. Cathay Pacific has four older freighters parked in the US, Singapore Airlines have four 747-400's sitting in the Mojave Desert. Cathay Pacific has lost money on air cargo in the last three years, while Qantas is seeing profits melt away.

So who is making money from moving cargo? The answer may be surprising. It is the passenger airlines who seem to be doing well in the cargo market. The trick is not to try to fill a whole freighter of cargo, but to have passenger aircraft that can hold reasonable amounts of freight. The new Boeing 777's can hold up to 20 tons of cargo, double that of the 747, so it can make flights profitable if the cargo hold is full. A number of airlines are using this tactic including Emirates, American, JAL, and British Airways.

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Damaged Roads

Wednesday April 9, 2014
Potholes If you thought your local roads here in the US were bad, give a thought to the situation in the UK, where the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has released a survey that found that estimated cost of getting roads in England and Wales back into a "reasonable" condition has increased to 12 billion ($20 billion). The estimated time to complete the current work could be as much as ten years.

Over 65 percent of local authorities in England and Wales have roads that were damaged by the bad winter weather this year, including massive flooding. The AIA says that it costs at least 20 times more per square meter to fill a pothole than it does to resurface a road. Despite this, the British government has chipped in a paltry 183 million ($305 million) to help fix the areas worst affected by the flooding.

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Shipping Lithium Batteries

Tuesday April 8, 2014
lithium metal battery ban The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been looking into the dangers of lithium metal batteries on passenger and cargo aircraft. The US and some foreign carriers already ban lithium metal batteries on passenger flights, but many airlines still ship these potentially dangerous goods. A working group from the ICAO, called the Dangerous Goods Panel, has been looking at lithium metal batteries and has performed a number of tests using a test Boeing 727 airframe.

If a lithium metal battery overheats, it can reach temperatures exceeding 760 degrees Celsius. If one battery ignites, it can quickly ignite others. Passenger flights use halon fire suppressant, but this has no effect on lithium metal battery fires. Tests using the 727 airframe found that that smoke caused by the fire engulfed the flight deck within eight or nine minutes of detection, while others caused an explosion that ripped through the aircraft, blew the flight deck door off its hinges and buckled the 727. The ICAO will consider the results of the test and make a decision on the future of carrying lithium metal batteries on any aircraft.

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More Food Safety Issues

Monday April 7, 2014
Food Safety Issues Tyson Foods is reported to be recalling more than 75,000 pounds of chicken products after it was found that some was contaminated by particles of plastic. A number of consumers have been finding small plastic particles in chicken nuggets that they purchased from Sam's Club across the country. The USDA has issued an notice that this is a Class II recall, as it presents a health hazard that has a remote probability of affecting consumers.

Tyson Foods stated that the issues are due to one particular piece of equipment and that a scrapper in a blending machine was the source of the plastic particles. The company has also said that they are implementing corrective measures in all of their facilities to ensure that this type of food safety issue does not occur again. Although there is no estimate of how much the recall will cost the company, it does once again show that the food supply chain in the US can be susceptible to contamination and it may take a couple of months, as in this case, to find out things have gone wrong.

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Jobs Created, But Unemployment Unchanged

Friday April 4, 2014
Labor statistics Statistics from the Labor Department shows that 192,000 new jobs were created in March, and that relates to 8.9 million jobs created over the last 49 consecutive months of employment growth. This figure means that there are now more jobs than before the beginning of the recession in 2008.

Other statistics from the Labor Department shows that at the height of the recession, there were six people applying for every open position, but now this has now fallen to 2.5 for every position. Other optimist figures showed that the average workweek in the manufacturing industry rebounded to 42.0 hours, which tied for the highest since July 1945. Unfortunately, with more people entering the workforce as the population grows, the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.

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