This is the final issue of Controlled Environments for 2016, which means that it’s time to look back on the past year and see what stories have been trending with our readers.
Food-related contamination was easily the hottest topic of the year for CE readers. The top blog entry of 2016 was about fast food chain Chipotle, which received a grand jury subpoena in January as part of a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice and the FDA (http://bit.ly/2emx3dc). Dozens of people were sickened after eating in Chipotle restaurants due to outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus. Chipotle lost millions of dollars and saw its stock price tumble in the months following the outbreaks. A February blog entry detailed Chipotle’s attempts to rectify the situation with a company-wide virtual meeting about food safety (http://bit.ly/2dJjfcI).
Canned tuna also presented a health crisis this year, along with pistachios and tea (http://bit.ly/2dvCLvK). And Chipotle found itself in the news yet again because of an illness outbreak in a Boston-area store — later they sent out millions of coupons for free food in a desperate attempt to win back customers. Frozen produce was the subject of a May blog entry (http://bit.ly/2e21LxI), which detailed how products possibly contaminated with Listeria had been shipped to every state in the U.S., plus Mexico and Canada. Nature Made, Clif Bar, and Hershey’s were also among the brand names affected by contamination recalls in 2016 (http://bit.ly/2emVbMH).
New York State’s “Buffalo Billion” project — a $1 billion investment in the Buffalo-area economy, which promised to create thousands of jobs and spur billions in new investment and economic activity over the next several years — was marred by corruption probes focused on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of his staff (http://bit.ly/1ro6mdR).
During the summer, voters in the United Kingdom elected to leave the European Union, in a move dubbed “Brexit.” Back in March (http://bit.ly/2e2lpty), CE discussed the opinions of prominent British scientists such as Stephen Hawking, who argued that British research institutes benefit from EU funding and access. After Brexit passed by a slim majority in the June referendum, we covered reactions from the British scientific community (http://bit.ly/28SeP3b), and talked about what Brexit could mean for funding, a lack of new researchers coming in from the Continent, and Scotland’s future in the U.K.
Actor Charlie Sheen made the news after he endorsed a line of condoms inspired by the
“honeycomb” structure of graphene (http://bit.ly/2e2mvFB). Sheen, who last year revealed that he has HIV, stated that the endorsement is his part in raising awareness about sexual health and safety.
Finally, electronics and semiconductor giant Samsung intentionally withheld deadly chemical information from its ill employees (http://bit.ly/2aM0aux). Samsung workers alleged they were exposed to deadly chemicals at the company’s computer chip and liquid crystal display factories. Ill employees should be able to access data about these chemicals through the government or courts, in order to provide proof when they apply for workers’ compensation. Without this information, though, it’s next to impossible for people to get compensation. However, court documents show that Samsung denied workers this information, alleging that doing so would expose trade secrets.
Controlled Environments will continue to track these topics, and others related to cleanrooms and contamination control, in 2017. See you next year!