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Your Yellowstone Park Selfies May Be Illegal (Thanks to E. Coli)

Wyoming lawmakers pass far-reaching legislation in an effort obscure a potential health hazard.

Submit a picture like this to a Parks Service photo contest, and you could be looking at a year in the hoosegow. Image by Daniel Mayer via Wikimedia Commons

Submitting pictures of your camping trip at Yellowstone National Park to any photo contest sponsored by a government agency is now a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. As ridiculous as this might sound, according to a Wyoming statute signed into law this spring, collection of data—a designation that includes photographs and video—on “open land” with the intent to submit it to “any agency of the state or federal government” is now illegal. According to a recent article in Slate by law professor Justin Pidot,

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You Can Turn E.Coli Bacteria into Microscopic Fuel Factories

How a canister of germs in your garage could replace the gas station.

At some point in your life, Escherichia coli has probably brought you to your knees to pray to the porcelain god. Common bacteria that often live harmlessly in the guts of most animals, a few strains of it can cause anything from food poisoning to death in humans. But, according to news out of Washington University in St. Louis last month, it may also be the key in our quest to find a renewable, environmentally safe fuel source.

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Charting Our Short Memory for Food Recalls

What's more remarkable than the large-scale food recalls that follow an outbreak of disease is how quickly we forget about them.

The produce is stacking up in Germany. Big piles of cucumbers. Discarded sprouts. Slack sales for veggies. Perhaps the fear is justified, given the scope of the ongoing E. coli outbreak, but what's more remarkable about many of these recalls is how quickly we forget about them.

Look at spinach, back in 2006, after an E. coli outbreak traced to a wild boar in California. Sales slumped, but not for long, according The New York Times:

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Food for Thinkers: Synthesizing Food Safety Politics Into Something Edible

Helena Bottemiller makes sense of U.S. food policy—and shares a behind-the-scenes peek at the preparations for a White House State Dinner.

Helena Bottemiller writes daily for Food Safety News and can be found on Twitter @hbottemiller. She is my favorite guide to the Kafka-esque ins and outs of US food policy, managing to write stories about federal oversight and judicial wrangling that not only make sense of how our food system is shaped at the government level, but are actually interesting to read too. I invited her to share what food writing means to her as part of Food for Thinkers week back in January, but a back injury (and subsequent heavy doses of morphine) put her out of action. Now she's back up on her feet, and I'm thrilled to be able to post her belated contribution!

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Infographic: Eight Food Recalls That Spurred the Latest Food Safety Bill

A disgusting sounding mess of contaminated eggs, peanut butter, cookie dough, and jalepenos contributed to the ongoing food safety overhaul.

What does it take to pass a food safety law?

In 1906, it was the gut-wrenching passages of the crusading novel The Jungle.

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