Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Already reeling from a series of food-borne-illness outbreaks, Chipotle Mexican Grill now faces a federal criminal investigation, as well.

The company says it has received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in connection with a norovirus outbreak last fall at one of its restaurants in Simi Valley, Calif.

In August, 189 customers were sickened after visiting the restaurant, as well as 18 Chipotle employees, according to Doug Beach, manager of the Community Services Program at the Ventura County Environmental Health Department, in an interview with NPR.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

A highly contagious strain of avian flu, a huge trade pact opening export markets and a few “restless” agribusinesses top Harvest Public Media's list of the biggest agriculture and food stories of 2015.

A kind of salmon that's been genetically modified so that it grows faster may be on the way to a supermarket near you. The Food and Drug Administration approved the fish on Thursday — a decision that environmental and food-safety groups are vowing to fight.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

One of the most important tools of modern medicine is in jeopardy. In the 20th century, antibiotics turned once-lethal infections into manageable diseases. They also contributed to the transformation of meat production in America.

Now, overuse of the drugs in both humans and animals is to blame for the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control blames for at least 23,000 deaths a year.

"We are nearly on the brink of being back in the pre-antibiotic era," said Loreen Herwaldt, a University of Iowa professor of infectious disease and internal medicine. "And that's pretty scary, in terms of not having anything to treat people with who have serious infections."

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Nebraska shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon muffins is in the air.

Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. That means business manager Mark Zink has to answer to both of the main U.S. food safety regulators, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

The product being made determines which agency is in charge. Apple cinnamon muffins fall under the authority of the FDA. A cheese burrito or cheese pizza is also FDA. But a beef burrito or pepperoni pizza has to meet USDA guidelines, rules formed by a totally different agency.

Photo courtesy of Colorado State University

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a $2 million contract to Colorado State University’s Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center, to help develop a vaccine to protect against Ebola and similar viruses.

Snake venom, vitamin C, Nano Silver and herbs have all been pitched online as a treatment or cure for Ebola. None has the backing of the FDA.

"Unfortunately during public health threats such as Ebola, fraudulent products that claim to prevent, treat, cure disease often appear on the market almost overnight," says Gary Coody, the FDA's national health fraud coordinator. In particular, the FDA wants consumers to beware Ebola "cures" peddled online.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

TV shows like “CSI” have made forensics a hot topic, spawning books and even science programs for kids. The same technology used at crime scenes to link a stray hair to a suspect can also find antibiotics or other medications in milk and meat. And the use of sophisticated testing is becoming increasingly available for livestock producers, who stand to lose lots of money if their products are tainted.

Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Starting in June, Colorado’s Medicaid agency will cover a breakthrough hepatitis C drug on a case-by-case basis, while it decides who will qualify for the potentially life-saving drug, and who will not.

Robin Reath was getting a routine checkup recently when her doctor brought up something new about cervical cancer screening.

"We might be doing something a little bit different than what we've been doing in the past when we've screened you," said Dr. Andrea Singer, an internist at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.

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