Monday Briefing

Scientists increasingly question “sustainable” seafood labels. Some researchers say the certification systems rating the environmental credentials of food retailers’ seafood give consumers a false impression that purchasing certain products helps the ocean more than it really does. Supporters, however, say the ratings are helping transform many of the world’s wild-caught fisheries, giving them a financial incentive to include environmental safeguards. The most commonly used certification comes from the Marine Stewardship Council, whose reviewers determine whether fish is relatively abundant and if catching it does not harm other species or ocean habitats. The Washington Post

Cancer research undermined by contaminated and misidentified cells used in labs. Experts seeking to solve the problem have found that, from one-fifth to possibly more than one-third, of cancer cell lines were mistakenly identified. As a result, researchers are unwittingly studying the wrong cancers, slowing progress toward new treatments and wasting time and money. In hundreds of documented cases, cancer samples that were supposed to be one type of tumor have turned out to be another, through careless laboratory handling, mislabeling or other mistakes. Researchers have complained for decades, but colleagues often ignore the warnings and don’t test cells they receive for their studies. The Wall Street Journal

Evidence suggests bribery “played a persistent and significant role” in Wal-Mart’s growth in Mexico, newspaper investigation finds. The giant retailer late last year disclosed its own probe into whether its Mexican executives violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law that makes it a crime for American corporations to bribe foreign officials. But, according to an examination by The New York Times, top Wal-Mart executives in the U.S. initially received evidence in 2005 that its Mexican officials paid millions in bribes to obtain permits for stores around the country. Yet Wal-Mart then halted its probe, and began investigating again only after the Times started asking about the issue.

Fines of $51,700 proposed after death of construction worker in Connecticut. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking the penalties from American Building LLC, a Trumbull, Conn.,-based contractor that the agency accuses of failing to take adequate steps to prevent falls. The agency investigated after an employee working on a roofing project in Stamford, Conn., fell 35 feet to his death. American Building’s owner also faces charges filed by the Connecticut Department of Labor accusing him of owing back wages to the victim and two of his brothers who were working on the same project. Connecticut Post, OSHA

Regulators consider extra testing for food and cosmetic packaging containing nanoparticles. The Food and Drug Administration issued tentative guidelines suggesting that companies eventually may be required to provide data establishing the safety of packaging using the tiny engineered particles. Under longstanding regulations, companies aren’t required to seek regulatory approval before launching products containing established ingredients and materials, such as caffeine, spices and various preservatives. But FDA officials say foods and packaging containing nanoparticles may require more scrutiny because materials at the nano scale can pose different safety issues. The Associated Press

Recalls: Michelin bus tires, Old Style Sausage bratwurst, Albie’s Pizza Calzone, X-Rock dietary supplements

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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