Archives April 2018

Grocery Shoppers Beware: Romaine Lettuce Containing E. Coli

Approximately 61% of shoppers want their produce department to store more local products, but shoppers need to be more concerned about foodborne illnesses as a result of purchasing some of these certain grocery items.

According to CNBC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a nationwide E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. There have been 53 cases of E. coli outbreaks across 16 states and 31 of those outbreaks resulted in hospitalization.

The CDC is warning states that all store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and mixes with romaine, should not be eaten and needs to be thrown away.

“Consumer Reports is making this recommendation given the potentially fatal consequences of E. coli, the fact that there are still several unknowns about this outbreak and that no type of romaine has been ruled definitively safe by government officials,” said James Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports.

CNN Health adds that vegetables are to blame for the majority of foodborne illnesses. Soil is evaluated on two basic features: texture and fertility, but any bit of compromised soil can lead to serious food-related illnesses.

Every year, one in six Americans gets sick from food, and 128,000 people are so sick they have to go to the hospital due to serious vomiting and diarrhea issues as well as severe nausea.

Though grocery shoppers need to be fully aware of what they are purchasing, that doesn’t mean individuals should avoid eating fruits and vegetables altogether.

“When properly cleaned, separated, cooked, and stored to limit contamination, fruits and vegetables safely provide some essential nutrients that would otherwise be lacking in most American diets,” officials from CDC wrote.

In order to combat this concerning outbreak, a coalition of five produce industry groups was working to identify where the problem started. The team found that the E. coli-infected lettuce stems from Yuma, Arizona, where the majority of the product is grown between November and March.

“Leafy greens food-safety programs in both California and Arizona are the most rigorous in today’s produce industry,” the produce groups said. “Both programs include mandatory farm food safety practices, and frequent government audits to ensure those practices are being followed.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released new food safety requirements. The draft proposals are the first food safety rules to be proposed in 70 years, and they will allow the FDA to take a more preventative role in dealing with food contamination, rather than strictly reactionary.

The new proposals will require much stricter standards for growing, harvesting, and storing produce items as well as increase sanitation methods for irrigation fields. It will also increase surveillance for machines used in soils like fertilizers and manure.

In order to avoid E. coli, thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, cook meat completely, avoid raw milk, wash your hands regularly, and avoid preparing food when you’re sick. If you believe you came in contact with E. coli, write down when you recently consumed and contact your doctor and local health department.

Natural Gas Turbines Revolutionizing International Energy Sector

In 2016, the United States was the largest producer of natural gas worldwide, extracting nearly 750 billion cubic meters of natural gas. A large part of that natural gas generation is the overall mass production from natural gas turbines and other major power plant pieces of equipment.

Across the country and the world, natural gas turbines have been working hard to produce greater amounts of this powerful form of energy, specifically focusing on the 95,471 miles of U.S. shoreline. And the need for oceanic and shore-based turbines certainly isn’t going anywhere.

According to, plans for using submerged gas turbines in Japan could actually replace up to 10 nuclear reactors.

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have developed turbines that can convert the power of oceanic waves into clean and renewable energy. The vigor of the ocean’s waves at the shoreline plays a major role in developing this quality type of energy.

“Particularly in Japan, if you go around the beach you’ll find many tetrapods,” said Professor Shintake of the OIST. “Surprisingly, 30% of the seashore in mainland Japan is covered with tetrapods and wave breakers.”

Replacing those structures with attached turbines would generate quality energy and protect the shoreline.

“Using just 1% of the season of mainland Japan can [generate] about 10 gigots [of energy], which is equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants,” added Professor Shintake. “That’s huge.”

Similarly, on the West Coast of the U.S., decreasing energy costs, improved public policies, and innovative turbine technology is providing much-needed assistance to the offshore market across California.

According to MIT Technology Review, natural gas turbines that were shut down in 2014 could offer some positive help for the future of California’s energy production. Thanks to a Seattle startup company, the world’s largest floating offshore turbine setup could produce as much as one gigawatt of electricity into California’s energy grid.

The floating offshore wind farm is being proposed to sit on a site that would actor between 60 and 100 gas turbines.

“This is the future of offshore wind,” said Alla Weinstein, a longtime engineer who has founded three renewable energy startup, including Trident Winds, which proposed the project.

An assessment last year by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that offshore wind farms across California could actually produce 112 gigawatts, most of it in waters of 200 feet deep or deeper.

Additionally, on the other side of the country, another new natural gas-fired turbine plant just won the approval of a state regularly panel, taking a major step forward for East Coast energy production.

According to The Sandwich Enterprise, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board cast the unanimous vote of approval. The proposed 350-megawatt gas-fired turbine project, dubbed the Canal 3 project, would produce additional power capacity to Massachusetts and Rhode Island in order to meet energy demands during peak times.

Lululemon Profit on the Rise Following Website Revamp

If you are a big fan of athletic clothing then you’re probably familiar with the brand Lululemon. Lululemon is popular among many girls and women around the United States as stores are constantly popping up each and every year. To further their success, the brand has taken their in-store offerings and introduced them the world wide web. And boy, have they been successful.

According to Markets Insider, their e-commerce earnings gave them the boost they needed to beat their earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017. It’s also the reason analysts are extremely optimistic about the company’s prospects. Each year, the average United States consumer spends about $1,800 on e-commerce transactions.

Analysts projected the company to bring in $1.26 per share and $912.42 million in revenue. However, the retailer recently posted their earnings, which came out to $1.33 per share and a revenue of $928.80 million. Their e-commerce sales increased by 42% for the fourth quarter, which was already on top of the 12% increase from 2016. The company attributes their e-commerce boost largely to the relaunch of their website. The website was made to be easier for customers to shop on, and the appearance became more attractive. On Wednesday, March 28, the company saw a spike in their stock by 10%, just one day after releasing their earnings for 2017.

As a whole, the company plans to hit $4 billion in sales by 2020. This will include $1 billion from e-commerce, $1 billion from international sales, and $1 billion for men’s apparel sales. Many people, including some Wall Street analysts, believed this spike in their profit was bound to happen.

Wall Street analyst Credit Suisse’s Michael Binetti believes there are multiple reasons for the amp in sales. These reasons include the co-located men’s and women’s clothing stores, their continued e-commerce strength, and their increased capex investments. He has hopes for the company and raised his price target from $96 per share to $98. While many are optimistic, Jefferies analyst Randal Konik believes the company’s valuation is way too high. He placed a “hold” rating on Lululemon and made a price target of $82 per share.

The company plans to keep growing, so we will all just have to wait to see if they reach their goal.

Airthings Wave: A New Device that Tests for Radon in Real-Time

Radon is a very dangerous radioactive gas. Colorless and odorless, it is a byproduct of the naturally occurring breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil, and water, so it is found all over the country. According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today.

Radon does not get as much attention as carbon monoxide and asbestos, but it should. Norway-based tech company Airthings has picked up on that and created a device that tests for radon in real time. The Wave is a Wi-Fi enabled, battery powered indoor air quality monitor. It’s about the size of a smoke detector and is enabled with temperature, air pressure, humidity, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, and radon detection sensors.

The hub connects to approximately 50 wireless devices found within a 300-foot range and features Ethernet, Bluetooth, and Airthings SmartLink connectivity. Its surface is pocked with small holes and features an LED ring light in the center that glows different colors to indicate the air quality. Its sensors are located near the bottom edge of the device.

The device comes with two AA batteries installed, so it’s ready to go once you pull the battery tab out. A voice from the device will tell you when it’s ready to be paired with your phone. Once it’s connected, you can mount the Wave to the wall just like a smoke detector and let it run. It takes about an hour to get your first radon reading.

Compared to standard short-term kits, there are advantages and pitfalls of the Wave. The device costs around $200, so it’s definitely not as economical. A typical radon-test kit costs $15 to $35, including the lab fees. Even at the higher end, you could test up to five rooms in your home for less than you could with the Wave, according to Tech Hive.

If you live in an area that is particularly prone to high radon levels, like mountainous areas, it may be a good idea to invest in the Wave to get updates on your air quality in real time. Otherwise, it may be smart to stick with a standard radon-test kit.