Thinly sliced: A “Blob”-like heat wave is emerging in the Pacific Ocean

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.

The empire strikes back. Koch Foods, whose troubled Morton, Mississippi, plant was raided last month by immigration authorities, is playing chicken with the federal government. The poultry packer has sued the United States of America—yes, really—claiming that the raid was illegal because the company was merely suspected of knowingly hiring undocumented workers. The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, which has been reporting on this whole saga from the jump, says that Koch’s defense is that the plant hires thousands of people, so illegally hiring 100-plus workers would be “statistically insignificant.” Also, Koch wants all its hiring files back, please.

Little black food fest. Three years ago, Lower East Side ice cream parlor Morgenstern’s introduced a black-colored flavor called “coconut ash.” It was a hit on social media and popular among eaters until last year, when the allergic-to-fun New York City Department of Health clamped down on the use of its key ingredient, activated charcoal, as an allowable ingredient.. Anyway, black-colored foods are apparently still quite the rage, Eater reports. In London, a questionably-named (for multiple reasons) “Black Food Festival” meant to celebrate every and any food colored by squid ink, charcoal, black sesame, and the like is about to debut. That’s dark.

Crepe caper. Ever tried to make a crepe cake? It ain’t quick. But the end result is so, so Instagrammable. Perhaps that’s why Lady M, a posh boutique bakery in New York City, has made such a brisk business out of the high-maintenance confections, attracting praise from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that … pie? This week, The New York Times reported that Lady M has accused a former employee of stealing, then reselling, about $90,000 worth of cake. Which, by our calculations, amounts to a slice or two.

Hot water. Federal scientists have discovered an alarming oceanic heat wave stretching from Alaska to California that could lead to significant marine die-off. The AP reports that NOAA Fisheries has detected a five-degree rise in water temperature, which could be disastrous for chinook salmon and other species connected to them in the food chain. The researchers suspect climate change is to blame, as they did with another Pacific heat wave five years ago. (That wave is partially blamed for humpback whales changing their migration patterns and getting caught in crab fishermen’s lines.)

No love for the haters. Mississippi has proposed new rules that would permit plant-based meat companies to comply with its recent ban on meat-based terms, by using a “comparable qualifier” like “plant-based” or “veggie-based,” or the wordier “made with plants,” reports Food Dive. The proposal is open for public comment for another two weeks, but if the change is adopted it’s likely to affect a pending lawsuit claiming the ban is a violation of First Amendment rights.

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