Weekly Topic: Minnesota Oysters?; Arrests for mislabeling beef products; Mysterious canine disease in Norway
Gus Brihn


Minnesota oysters?

How do Minnesota oysters sound? Well, new research led by the Duluth-based Minnesota Sea Grant is studying whether sustainable aquaculture is feasible in the Great Lakes region. The team aim to answer the questions, “Can we do aquaculture well? Should we do it at all? And if yes to those two questions, how do we do it right?” said spokesperson Marie Thoms.

The Great Lakes Sea Grant Aquaculture Collaborative, launched last week, by a $1 million federal grant will examine emerging technologies and conduct market surveys to establish the consumer and industry drive for aquaculture in the region. The grant is for three years of research and will engage eight different states. Ultimately the researchers aim to recommend strategies that could help satisfy the US demand for seafood without impacting ocean stocks.

The project began due to the concern that the US will face a $14 billion seafood trade deficit from importing 90% of its fish and seafood. Don Schreiner, the project co-leader, said the study will identify where challenges and opportunities lie and focus on sustainability while avoiding the impact on the public resources.



Arrests for mislabeling beef products

Two men, Alan Buxbaum and Howard Mora, were arrested and arraigned on federal felony charges stemming from a three-year scheme of selling “Choice” beef misbranded as “Prime” beef. Buxbaum and Mora were both featured on a reality show, CNBC’s “The Profit,” hosted by Marcus Lemonis, that ended up in a financial dispute about the purported sale of their “Brooklyn Burger” brand.

Lemonis, sued Mora and Buxbaum, claiming that they refused to turn over the rights to “Brooklyn Burgers” after paying them $190,000. Mora and Buxbaum then countersued for $1 million claiming defamation. After battling in courts for about a year, both parties ended up settling outside of court. However, a federal court in Brooklyn on September 24, 2019, unsealed a new indictment naming Mora and Buxbaum for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The US Attorney’s Office for Eastern District of New York accuses them of using counterfeit USDA stamps to misbranding “Choice” beef products for more expensive “Prime” cuts.

The investigation, which was led by the USDA Office of the Inspector General, led to the indictment. The misbranding scheme was carried out between September 2011 to October 2014, during their time on the show. They had allegedly purchased “Choice” beef and sold it at an inflated price as “Prime” beet throughout the New York metropolitan area. If convicted, the two men could serve up to 20 years each in federal prison.

Food Safety News


Mysterious canine disease in Norway

The Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority are trying to identify the cause of death of an estimated 43 dogs throughout the country. The first cases were reported in the capital Oslo but at least 13 additional cities have now reported deaths.

The presenting signs are usually vomiting and bloody diarrhea; however, the challenge is that these signs are often non-specific and can arise from many diseases. Necropsies of the dogs have all shown the same signs of bloody intestinal inflammation and the bacteria Providencia alcalifaciens has so far been detected in many of the cases. However, the bacterium has also been detected in some healthy dogs, but in smaller quantities.

Surveys have been sent out to veterinarians to obtain more information. Currently, there are no common differences between cases of sick dogs in terms of age, breed, feeding, contact with other dogs, areas and the like, except that many of the cases are from some counties in Eastern Norway. The Veterinary Institute believes it is unlikely that there is one specific common denominator among all the registered cases of dogs with bloody diarrhea and emphasizes that the development of disease is probably what is called multifactorial.



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Gus Brihn

Gus Brihn

Gus completed his undergraduate degree at the U of M in Global Studies, and has spent much of his time abroad, including time in France and Namibia. Gus became interested in emergency medicine from becoming a Wilderness First Responder and NR-EMT. He completed his veterinary degree at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Gus is interested in zoonotic disease outbreak investigation, prevention, and epidemiology. Outside of work, Gus enjoys rock climbing and doing Brazilian Jiu jitsu. He has an 11 year-old Staffordshire terrier mix breed dog named Sweet Pea.