Thinly sliced: E.coli outbreak sickens at least 35, candy blog saves Necco wafers, and more

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.

Lettuce prey. An 11-state E.coli outbreak that’s sickened 35 people has been traced to romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona—”America’s winter vegetable capital.” Many wild animals carry dangerous bacteria in their guts, and their feces—if it gets into feed troughs and crop fields—can make humans really sick. But how do you keep wild pests from pooping in fields? Two weeks ago, we covered a pair of Yuma women who think falcons may be the answer.

Spill the tea. Popular kombucha brands are being sued for allegedly exceeding the 0.5 percent alcohol threshold at which they’d have to call themselves alcoholic beverages—and be labeled and taxed as such. The lawsuit comes from Tortilla Factory, which sells the popular fermented tea drink under the brand name Kombucha Dog. Its product contains 1.5 percent alcohol, and it is labeled as alcohol. According to Food Navigator USA, third-party testing detected alcohol levels higher than the 0.5 percent limit for non-alcoholic drinks in various kombucha brands, including Trader Joe’s private-label Kombucha, but those products aren’t labeled accordingly. Kombucha Dog argues that means the playing field isn’t level. More tea here.

Stone cold. Three out of every 10 food and hotel workers in Colorado are marijuana users, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), officially making food service the stoniest industry in the state. The study was conducted by the state’s public health department, which asked almost 27,000 working adults if they’d used marijuana or hashish in the past 30 days, during the years 2014 and 2015. By comparison, less than seven percent of teachers were users.

Candy, man. The blog of an online candy store enlisted shoppers and readers to campaign to save Necco—a Massachusetts-based candy manufacturer best known for its popular wafers and candy hearts—and succeeded. On March 12, the Boston Globe reported that Necco, short for New England Confectionery Company, would shutter in 60 days. The blog reported that shortly thereafter, sales of Necco candies spiked, and panicked eaters wrote in offering arms and legs to secure bulk orders of the candies before the company’s demise. Yesterday, announced that a former Necco CEO would step in to buy the company. Sweet.

Just say “no” to drug tests. Republican lawmakers are bucking against the Trump administration’s rumored proposal to allow states to drug test people applying for food stamps. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, a Republican, and fellow Representative Glenn Thompson, also a Republican, both told the Washington Examiner they would vote against such a measure if it were introduced in Wednesday’s markup session.

Dems’ response. Just before we went to press, New York’s Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted she’d be introducing legislation called the SNAP For Kids Act as part of the Senate’s farm bill. The proposed legislation, which would increase food assistance for school children by 27 percent, was in response to what she called the Republican plan to “kick millions of households” off SNAP. We’ll be following this development.

The Counter Stories by our editors.