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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday, July 04, 2014: Alert and Arthur update … as it moves out to sea, rapidly.

LBI AFTERNOON MOTORIST ALERT: The Boulevard is absolutely flooded – BUT NOT WITH WATER!!!!!!!!!!! There is a veritable traffic tsunami out there, north to south. If you have to be somewhere at a special time, you might want to leave yourself, like, an extra day or so. OK, it might not be that bad but it’s bad enough. And kindness and gentleness is not on the minds of many motorists. So, take the high road and be the one driver who lets side road traffic in. It feels good to get a kindly wave or two on a traffic day from holiday hell.

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Congrats to Island businesses that are absolutely killing it thanks to Arthur’s half-day showing. Just try getting into a restaurant. Crammed.

As for the storm, just remember it’s not a serious coastal storm until everybody and their brothers are tracking the next high tide. We ain’t.

Arthur further proves how much we love our hurricane watching, heavily egged on by The Weather Channel. For most of us, Arthur was more entertaining than impactful. However, my sympathies go out to the Outer Banks, where they now have to go through not only an irksome cleanup – a holiday weekend ruiner -- but might need to contend with bridge repairs. That later thing can be a lifestyle ballbuster to be sure. Let’s hope the Outer Banks spans – and I’m pretty familiar with them – have weathered Arthur.

LOW SALT DIET: Locally, I always like to note the salinity of the standing water in roadways. This go’round there is virtually no salt in the puddle mix. I registered near zero salinity – short of everyday residual salt content – in standing water areas. However, there could be some brackishness arising through the sewers and onto the roadways -- at the famed and perpetual low spots -- as high tides spit into puddles a wee bit.  

As expected, things are going from bland to grand by tomorrow. Wait until you see the gorgeousity, brightened even further by the rain- and wind-cleaning from today’s blow.

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Above: Surfer (left) with man he just saved.

Now to the serious s***! I’ve oft been quoted as saying more people die from tropical systems that don’t make landfall than from those that slam ashore. I’m of course referencing rip current drownings from the powerful waves mailed out by hurricanes and tropical storms. It’s churned up out there and even though I’m downgrading how large the surf might be for the weekend, it’ll still be seriously dangerous. Now, add to that critical waveage the warmer water that got blown in from the north winds and as large a July Fourth people presence as I've ever seen and you have a deadly-ass combo.

I’d even like to make a shout-out to my surfing buddies, who’ll be out there later today and early tomorrow morning in epic numbers. Please keep an eye out and an ear open for any non-lifeguarded bathers who might get in over their heads. You know how often it’s waveriders who first come to the rescue. Karma gets no better than saving a soul or two. 

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In the news:::::::::::::::

Consumer Reports survey ranks McDonald's burger worst in the nation

 

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Washington Post] By Jiaxi Lu - July 3, 2014 - 

Some major fast-food chains — McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell — may find the latest Consumer Reports fast-food survey hard to swallow.

According to the survey, released on Wednesday, more than 30,000 Consumer Reports subscribers say these restaurants' signature items are the worst in their categories: McDonald's has the worst burger; KFC has the worst chicken; and Taco Bell has the worst burrito.

Consumer Reports surveyed 32,405 subscribers about their experiences at 65 fast-food and fast-casual chains. This is what they were asked: "On a scale of  1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you've ever eaten, how would you rate the taste" of their signature dishes?

Habit Burger Grill, In-n-Out and Five Guys Burgers received the highest rating for their burgers, 8.1, 8.0 and 7.9 respectively.  Meanwhile, McDonald's scored a paltry 5.8 rating.

McDonald's: Changing menu adds pressure to prep kitchen

McDonald's has been busy changing its menu in an effort to attract more customers. But despite the novelty items the company promoted in 2013 — Fish McBites in February, McWraps in March, Mighty Wings in September, etc. — the company's U.S. sales dropped 0.2 percent last year.

During a conference call with investors, McDonald's chief financial officer Peter Bensen said the company "probably did things a little bit too quickly" in terms of introducing those new menu items. The constant changes and bold experiments with the menu put pressure to the restaurants' kitchens, which sometimes took too long to fill orders. But new items introduced this year will be welcomed by the chain's new kitchen equipment. Prep tables will be replaced with larger surfaces that are able to hold more sauces and ingredients.

In 2014, Bensen said, the company will "refocus the core,"  including tried-and-true favorites such as the Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets and the Quarter Pounder, as well as breakfast.

Consumer searches for healthier choices

Research shows Americans are spending $683.4 billion a year dining out, and they are also demanding better food quality and greater variety from restaurants to make sure their money is well spent.

When deciding where to dine, consumers are giving more consideration to food quality, according to the Consumer Reports survey. The restaurant's location is less important than it was in 2011, when the group last conducted the survey. Diners today are more willing to go out of their way to find tasty meals that can be customized.

"Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it," Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service consulting firm, said in the report.

While many of the traditional chains have lagged in offering higher-quality ingredients, he said, some food chains — including Chipotle, Noodles & Company and Panera — have been offering meat raised without using antibiotics in animal feed, a feature that attracts consumers searching for healthier options.

Fast-food alternatives: fast-casual restaurants

Chipotle was rated by readers as their top  fast-casual restaurant. (Fast-casual restaurants usually serve higher-quality, higher-priced fast food.) According to the survey, McAlister's Deli gets the award for most improved as the chain's score increased significantly since the 2011 report.

Top fast-casual restaurants:

Chipotle Mexican Grill Firehouse Subs Five Guys Burgers and Fries Jason's Deli Jersey Mike's Subs Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches McAlister's Deli Panera Bread Schlotzsky's 

Photo Credit: Washington Post

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FDA about to issue new guidance on mercury in seafood, says labeling not needed

 

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press] By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lauran Neergaard - June 2, 2014 -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is updating its advice for pregnant women on the appropriate levels of mercury in seafood but Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Friday that it won't require mercury labels on seafood packages.
 
In a wide-ranging interview Friday with The Associated Press, Hamburg said the agency will update guidance on mercury in different varieties of seafood and what that means, a long-awaited move aimed at helping women better understand what to eat when they're pregnant.
 
"It's an advisory, not an effort to mandate labeling," Hamburg said. "Different seafood products do contain different levels of mercury, and so different seafood products can be rated in terms of levels of mercury."
 
Eating fish is part of a heart-healthy diet, and many types are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are important for brain development.
 
But fish also can absorb small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin, from streams and oceans — and a small number of varieties harbor higher levels.
 
For most people, accumulating mercury from eating seafood isn't a health risk. But for a decade, the FDA has warned that pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, and young children avoid certain types of high-mercury fish because of concern that too much could harm a developing brain.
 
Consumer groups have sued the agency, saying the warnings weren't clear enough about what to avoid, and seeking labeling to help so that shoppers wouldn't have to remember which products are OK during pregnancy or for youngsters.
 
"We can't ask consumers to memorize two different lists of fish," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, one of the groups that sued.
 
DeWaal said the new advisory will be an improvement if it gives consumers better information, especially if that information could be kept at fish counters in grocery stores and retail outlets.
 
The seafood industry says the government shouldn't look at mercury by itself, but at the benefits of seafood. Jennifer McGuire of the National Fisheries Institute says the original FDA guidelines warning against some types of fish for pregnant women just served to decrease overall seafood intake.
 
"That would be very concerning if there was a 'good fish, bad fish' list," she said.
 
The government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines incorporated FDA's warnings to say that pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week. But it said they should not eat tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel because of the mercury content and it advised limiting white albacore tuna to six ounces a week.
 
On other food-related issues, Hamburg said deciding which businesses will have to post calorie labels has been "one of the more complex undertakings of my tenure as FDA commissioner."
 
The food industry is closely watching FDA to see which establishments are included in final menu labeling rules, which are expected this year. Congress required the labels in 2010 health overhaul, and supermarkets and convenience stores have lobbied aggressively since then to be excluded. But the restaurant industry says that all establishments serving prepared foods should have to post the labels.
 
She said the increasing amount of caffeine in a whole range of foods "has gotten our attention and concern" and that the agency needs to better understand the role of the stimulant in non-traditional products, especially on children. She said the science is not absolutely clear about its effects.
 
The agency is investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death. FDA is also looking at caffeine in food as manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years.
 
On genetically modified foods, Hamburg reiterated her support for voluntary labels, and said a "considerable amount of scientific study" does not suggest the kinds of public health concerns that some consumers have worried about. Advocates for GM labeling have been pushing state laws that require the labels.
 
As such, she says she does not believe FDA should have to do a mandatory safety review of all engineered foods. FDA now reviews the safety of GM animals, but has a voluntary review for companies that want to sell modified crops for consumption.

Photo Credit: NPR.org

 

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