How will animals handle the solar eclipse?

On Monday, Aug. 21, much of the U.S. is going to go dark during the afternoon when the moon passes in front of the sun; the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental states in nearly 40 years.

(For those of you in South America, Africa and Europe, you may be able to see a partial eclipse depending on where you are, so get pumped for that.)

We can predict that the day will involve many excited people watching outside, wearing funny eye-protecting glasses and attending eclipse-themed parties, but how will animals react?

It’s hard for scientists to track animal behavior during total eclipses. The celestial phenomenon doesn’t happen often.

“The reality is that because of the infrequency of solar eclipses, and because when it does happen, it is usually not in the same place, it is very hard to have actual scientific findings,” said animal behavior expert Rick Schwartz in a recent article. [ More … ]

Take me out to the ball game: Food safety in a sports stadium

Baseball fans around the world love to sit back with some snacks — hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, fried grasshoppers (if you live in Seattle) — while they cheer on their favorite team at the city baseball stadium.

Like all food service establishments, baseball stadiums need stringent food safety practices to keep sports fans watching the game and not puking in the bathroom.

Keeping an eye on stadiums, Sports Illustrated recently published a ranking of 28 U.S. baseball stadiums with the highest and lowest numbers of food safety infractions. The magazine analyzed public inspection data from recent inspections to come up with its list.

Which stadium should you feel most comfortable eating your giant soft pretzel in? [ More … ]

Neogen launches DeciMax® Soft Bait

Neogen is excited to announce the launch of DeciMax® Soft Bait, an effective rodenticide bait that combines superior palatability with the flexibility to use in extreme weather conditions.

DeciMax Soft Bait uses the active ingredient bromadiolone, a second generation anticoagulant, to effectively control rats and mice. The new rodenticide has been shown to be very palatable; the product is produced using the highest quality ingredients, which include food grade wheat flour, chopped grain, soft lard and synthetic peanut butter flavoring.

DeciMax Soft Bait is easily secured on a skewer or rod inside a bait station, and can be used indoors or outdoors for effective rodent control. The new rodenticide will stay pliable in cold conditions because of the soft lard contained in the formulation, and will not melt off a rod in heat due to its paper sachet encasement. [ More … ]

When grain bins break

A common concern with grain storage is how to avoid contamination from mycotoxins and other issues. Another danger that some may overlook: grain bin collapses.

They don’t happen often, but when they do, consequences can be expensive and at times, deadly. Equipment can be destroyed by the rush of flooding grain, hundreds of thousands of bushels can be wasted and humans in the way have lost their lives.

Fortunately, loss of life was not a concern earlier this month when a grain bin in the U.S. state of Nebraska suffered a breach one Sunday evening. Over a million bushels poured out, leaving a mountain of grain noticeable from the highway a half-mile away. An employee checked the bin less than a half-hour before the collapse and noted no issues, and the damage was later noticed by a passerby. Officials estimate the corn on the ground was worth $4 to $5 million. Because it was a Sunday evening, few were around the grain elevator, so no one was hurt.

Major spills are usually the main problem with bin breakage, but in some cases, the cloud of grain dust that comes furling out after a collapse can ignite, leading to dangerous explosions. [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: Opioid abuse in the United Kingdom

U.S. President Donald Trump declared the ongoing opioid crisis a national emergency last week, following the urging of his Commission on Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which stated that about 142 Americans die daily of a drug overdose.

But while the U.S. might be dealing with the most severe opioid crisis in the world right now, The United Kingdom is also starting to see its own drug statistics creep upwards.

The U.K. has not only been seeing increases in cocaine purity in recent months — opioid usage is increasing as well, as well as other drugs. The synthetic opioid fentanyl has been of particular concern to many experts, having been linked to at least 60 overdose deaths in the past eight months, according to the National Crime Agency. [ More … ]

Monday links

Image courtesy CU Boulder

Don’t have time to scour the internet for the latest animal science, food safety, and agriculture news? Relax, we’ve got it covered.

Animal Science:

Seasonal Effects: Winter foals are smaller than foals born in summer — University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
As the seasons change, experts also note changes in animal behavior, metabolism and reproductive activity across many species, including horses, both wild and domesticated. For the first time, researchers have now identified seasonal changes during winter that also affect mare pregnancy and fetal development, showing that foals born in colder times tend to be smaller early in life.

Pigs are wet animals — how to deal with it? — Pig Progress
Pigs are very wet animals. This has some consequences for the general condition in swine barns. Why is this the case, and what areas should pig farmers pay attention to in order to ensure biosecurity and ideal conditions. [ More … ]

Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report: August 14, 2017

On this week’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report, we check in on ongoing drought conditions and our first confirmed aflatoxin report, and Tony returns with one of his famous Tech Tips: How often should you calibrate your equipment? Click here to watch.

Neogen Corporation takes great care to ensure the integrity of the data we collect from many sources across the country. As these data can vary widely, they should NOT be considered typical of all grain harvested. The mycotoxin levels we report are intended to assist our industry partners in developing their risk assessment programs. Detecting problems before commingling or processing can help avoid quality issues and financial losses.

To subscribe to get these reports straight to your email inbox, click here.

The truth about copper poisoning from Moscow mules

Photo by Ted Eytan

Head out on the town this summer and you’ll probably see it at some outdoor patio: a beverage clutched in the hands of someone who looks quite trendy, lime slices floating among ice cubes, condensation glistening on a cool, copper mug. The Moscow mule.

Moscow mules — not from Russia nor having anything to do with donkey/horse crossbreeds — are prepared with ginger beer, vodka and lime juice, and have been back in the spotlight in recent years.

However, worries have flurried after a recent news bulletin from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division cast doubt on using copper mugs to serve the popular cocktail. Copper mugs have been the traditional serving method since the drink’s invention in the 1940s. [ More … ]

Criminal investigations launch after recall of millions of eggs in Europe

Some of us like our eggs scrambled. Others, sunny side up. Maybe you’re an eggs-over-easy type of person. Whatever the style, none of us want dangerous chemicals in our eggs.

Several European countries are trying to figure out what went wrong late last year that led to the discovery of a harmful insecticide called fipronil in eggs that were widely distributed to supermarkets.

The scandal, which has been known to the public since early August, is heating up now that claims have surfaced that Belgian authorities knew of the contamination since June, but did not share the information.

The Belgian minister claims that Dutch authorities were the ones who had information, and that Belgian authorities had delayed reporting fipronil after discovering it because levels found were so low, though higher levels have been detected since then. Meanwhile, the Netherlands detected higher fipronil content in eggs, to levels that it says could cause public health concerns. The European Union’s limit is 0.72 mg/kg in eggs. [ More … ]

8 foods dog owners shouldn’t feed their pets

Dog owners: we’ve all done it. When those puppy-dog eyes beg to us from under the dinner table, we can’t resist. A little scrap of people food becomes dog food thanks to a guilty Dog Mom or Dad. (Kudos to those of you who hold strong against the relentless force of the sad puppy-dog eyes.)

However, as pet owners, we need to be careful of what we give our furry friends. While some table scraps can be fine or even healthy for dogs to eat, others, not so much.

“Our bodies may break down foods or other chemicals that a dog’s can’t tolerate,” said Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To keep pets safe, the FDA has made a guide to foods that dogs should avoid: [ More … ]