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Americans are returning to restaurants, bars and other dining places as Covid-19 restrictions come down, adding new strains in food supply chains.

Suppliers and logistics providers say distributors are facing shortages of everyday products like chicken parts, as well as difficulty in finding workers and surging transportation costs as companies effectively try to reverse the big changes in food services that came as coronavirus lockdowns spread across the U.S. last year.

“Over the last six weeks, we have seen the market come roaring back faster than anybody would have anticipated,” said Mark Allen, chief executive of the International Foodservice Distributors Association. “The start up has been, in many ways, as difficult as the shutdown…Everybody is trying to turn it on immediately and the capacity might not be there.”

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

28 states issue warnings about residents receiving unsolicited seed packets from China

seeds

Officials in at least 28 states are urging residents to report any unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China because they could be harmful.

The agricultural departments in those states released statements in recent days saying residents had reported receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they had not ordered.

"Based on information provided by constituents, the packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them," the Delaware Department of Agriculture said in a statement Monday. "All contained some sort of seed packet either alone, with jewelry, or another inexpensive item."

Public notices about unsolicited shipments of seeds from China were also issued by agriculture officials in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington state, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The USDA said in a statement it did not have any evidence that this was something other than a "brushing scam," where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.

Read more at NBC News

OIG Says DHS is Not Coordinating Efforts to Defend Food and Agriculture Systems Against Terrorism

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says the Department is not coordinating efforts to defend food, agriculture and veterinary systems against terrorism. The United States’ food, agriculture, and veterinary systems are vulnerable to threats of terrorism and other events that pose a high risk to homeland security such as natural and unintentional introduction of diseases, pests, or poisons. For example, evidence suggests terrorists have considered targeting people by adding toxic chemicals and pathogens directly to the food supply.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. military found a list of pathogens in an Afghanistan cave that Al-Qaeda planned to use as potential biological weapons to target humans and the food supply. The Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act (SAFA) requires that DHS’ Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) carry out a program to coordinate the Department’s efforts to defend the country’s food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and other high-consequence events. According to SAFA, the program should provide oversight, lead policy initiatives, and coordinate with DHS components and Federal agencies.

However, an OIG review found CWMD has not yet carried out a program to meet SAFA’s requirements. This occurred because CWMD believes it does not have clearly defined authority from the Secretary to carry out the requirements of SAFA. OIG also found that since its establishment in December 2017, CWMD has not prioritized SAFA requirements but instead has focused its resources on other mission areas. As a result, OIG says CWMD has limited awareness of DHS’ ongoing efforts and cannot ensure it is adequately prepared to respond to a terrorist attack against the Nation’s food, agriculture, or veterinary systems.

Read the rest of the article at HS Today