Officials say apple cider is safe to enjoy

Capital News Service
LANSING — Apple cider seekers shouldn’t be deterred this fall by what one expert is calling a unique, isolated incident of tainted cider in St. Johns. “The recent events at Uncle John’s are very unusual and very rare for our apple cider industry in Michigan,” said Bob Tritten, an MSU Extension fruit educator who has worked with cider mills  for nearly 30 years. “Cider has had a safe track record over the last 15, 20, years and this is an isolated incident.”
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a consumer advisory for  Uncle John’s Cider Mill on Oct. 27 after finding Shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria during a random department inspection.

Water quality testing limited to few beaches

Capital News Service
Michigan received $152,000 in federal grants for 2014 to monitor the cleanliness of its lakes and beaches. That’s more than $200,000 less than the state was allotted in 2013, according to Department of Environmental Quality toxicologist Shannon Briggs. And state lawmakers have already spoken for nearly two-thirds of this year’s money by allocating $100,000 of it to the Macomb County Health Department in southeast Michigan. “We had a re-direct of $100,000 of that $150,000,” said Brad Wurfel, communications director for the Department of Environmental Quality. “It is done.”

The downside is that there is far less money allocated to testing water safety elsewhere in the state this year.

Scientists eye bad bugs at Great Lakes beaches

Capital News Service
LANSING — While health agencies look for faster ways to detect harmful E. coli bacteria on public beaches, including those on lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie, they are overlooking another germ that may cause even greater problems, scientists warn. Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, is a newly recognized beach threat by research teams across the country. “This organism is tenacious, it can reoccur and it can be very difficult to get rid of,” said Marilyn Roberts, a University of Washington professor who has studied the bacteria on marine and freshwater beaches near Seattle. “It can cause a huge amount of destruction of tissue, and in the worst case scenario it can cause death.”
The federal Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t require local governments to check beaches for staph. Instead, they test for E. coli, a bacteria usually spread through feces from farm runoff or leaky sewers.