Thinly sliced: Hawaii bans pesticide chlorpyrifos, CDC announces death in E. coli outbreak, 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.

Outbreak update. The Centers for Disease Control announced on Wednesday that one person in California has died from the E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona. The agency did not disclose further details. As of May 2, the outbreak had spanned 121 confirmed cases in 25 states. Experts estimate the actual number of cases to be roughly 35 to 40 times the number of reported cases. The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that greens from Yuma are no longer being distributed, but some may remain in the supply chain.

Cultural studies. Cell-cultured meat is moving forward rapidly in Israel. One of the country’s “clean meat” start-ups, Future Meat Technologies—which received a $2.2 million seed investment from Tyson Foods—predicts that it will be able to reduce the production costs of lab-grown meat to $5 to $10 per kilogram by 2020, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, Aleph Farms, another Israeli start-up, is working on lab-grown meat that actually resembles steak, which is expected to debut in two years’ time. Food Navigator has the details.

Why so salty? Sodium chloride, as you surely recall from high school chemistry, is the fancy-pants scientific name for salt. But there’s a new “salt” in town. Enter potassium chloride—a product manufactured by food tech company NuTek Food Science—which is reportedly just as tasty, minus the sodium. The company has petitioned the FDA for permission to call their product “potassium salt,” and big food manufacturers like Campbell’s and Walmart have joined the cause, Food Navigator reports. The ultimate goal? To replace conventional salt with a potassium-rich alternative, while still being able to use the familiar shorthand. Non-profit salt advocacy group the Salt Institute, meanwhile, is saying “Na” to the petition, arguing that it would send salt labeling down a slippery slope of inaccuracy.

Attention, shoppers. We’re not sure the world was clamoring for a Trader Joe’s podcast—but, nevertheless, here we are. The retailer has released a five-part audio series “Inside Trader Joe’s,” a branded podvertisement that chronicles the store’s “humble beginnings” and takes listeners behind the scenes. Now if you’re longing to bring that special grocery-store clamor with you, you can carry the sound of sheer chaos with you on your morning commute. Any takers? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Island breeze. A bill passed in the Hawaii state legislature would ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos by 2022, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. If the governor signs the bill, Hawaii will be the first state to enact a chlorpyrifos ban. As we reported in August, the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama recommended banning chlorpyrifos nationwide, but EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has refused to further restrict its use. Hawaii’s law suggests states may move forward with chlorpyrifos bans in the absence of federal regulation.

One-star. This may be the strangest Yelp-related story we’ve read yet—a cautionary tale from Yesha Callahan, deputy editor of The Root, about a home delivery gone awry. It started after Callahan ordered dinner from a nearby restaurant, La Porchetta, and was asked by the delivery person to leave a Yelp review. After leaving a less-than-favorable review of the meal, she received a home visit from the manager at 10:00 p.m., who called multiple times saying he was at the door. Needless to say, she was a bit alarmed—and, instead of answering, called the police. Ultimately, Callahan lowered her initial review from three stars to one. The customer is always right.

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