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DPI Diary May 17

May 17, 2013

This edition of DPI Diary covers the two-week period from May 4 through May 17.

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Gainesville Health Fair was a hit

GiantColonThis year the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered with Shands Health Care and the University of Florida for the 2013 Health and Safety Fair. Employees were encouraged to attend and participate in the more than 50 medical screenings and educational displays at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center in Gainesville. Attendees entered the hall by walking through a giant colon that graphically highlighted  polyps, cancers and other issues for which individuals should be screened. Members of the DPI staff manned displays and offered presentations that highlighted biting insects, poisonous plants, eating healthy “Fresh from Florida” food, apiary and dairy. Botanist Dr. Patti Anderson conducted a session on poisonous plants that included live specimens of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

Officials laud Coca-Cola plan to invest in Florida citrus industry

The announcement by Coca-Cola Co. that it will spend $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in Florida, represents a major investment in the Sunshine State’s citrus industry. Coca-Cola will buy fruit from two growers: Peace River Citrus Products in Vero Beach and Cutrale Citrus, one of Brazil’s top growers and juice processors. Cutrale Citrus’ entrance to Florida as a grower is significant, said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “The fact that one of the dominant Brazilian players will now have an ownership stake in actual production in Florida is a tremendous development,” Putnam said.

“Don’t Pack a Pest” Partners meet in Washington, D.C.

DeniseNRichardWhiteHouseDivision of Plant Industry Director Richard Gaskalla, Director of Public Information Denise Feiber and Public Information Specialist Ellen Dyck traveled to Washington, D.C. last week for a planning session with the agencies that are our partners in the Travelers “Don’t Pack a Pest” Program. The program encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items in their luggage. It is a joint effort of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The “Don’t Pack a Pest” message is delivered via signage at international airports and cruise ports, billboards along Florida highways and videos playing at 20 major airports and aboard American Airlines flights. Last year the program was adopted at two airports in Jamaica. This year the Dominican Republic agreed to join the partnership. 

Don’t eat the giant African land snail

photo (2)A Miami Herald reporter published a recipe for giant African land snail (GALS) stew from a restaurant in Opa-Locka that serves mainly Nigerian dishes. The restaurateur said her cafe used to serve the dish. Public radio/TV station WLRN published a story that quoted FDACS entomologist Paul E. Skelley, warning of the dangers — including the possibility of contracting meningitis — inherent in consumption of GALS and other snails from the wild. In that article, Skelley also pointed out that it is illegal to import the snails without a permit (and no permits have been issued) or to move GALS from one property to another. The FDACS/DPI GALS eradication team continues to stress: anyone who finds a snail they suspect could be a GALS should avoid handling it without gloves, do not come in contact with its slime, do not eat it, and immediately report it to the FDACS/DPI Helpline, 1-888-397-1517. Inspectors will respond to such calls.

Love Bugs are back

This week DPI social media warned Floridians of the beginning of love bug season and once again attempted to dispel a popular myth. The presence of love bugs here is not the result of an experiment-gone-wrong at the University of Florida. Nor were they a failed method of mosquito control, reared by the United States Department of Agriculture. No, they migrated from Central America into Texas, then spread east all along the Gulf Coast. Today, they can be found throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Look for he harmless but messy critters to be around until the end of May, then return in September.

Easy way to see FDACS/DPI social media posts

Here’s an easy way to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow our division blog. Just go to the division website, http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/ look for the “Follow us on the Web” box in the right column, and click on any of the icons.

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