SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

June 11, 2014

Li’l Bits. . June ’14

Auto industry

Tesla to select 3 sites for its battery plant

By Ben Klayman REUTERS

DETROIT — Tesla Motors Inc. is looking at three sites, instead of two, to begin construction for its lithium-ion battery plant in the United States, Chief Executive Elon Musk said yesterday.

The leading U.S. electric-car maker expects to trim from five the number of states from which it is choosing to build its battery plant, dubbed the “gigafactory,” but a decision on the final site will not come before year’s end.

  • “We’re probably going to do two or maybe three states all the way to creating a foundation and completing the plans and getting approval,” Musk told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Mountain View, Calif. “It might actually be three states we do it in.”   Tesla previously said it would pick two winners from among Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California and start developing the sites simultaneously to minimize risk of delays after groundbreaking.

Musk — who reaffirmed he will remain CEO of Tesla at least four or five more years through the production of a high-volume car dubbed Gen 3 — said the company was “quite advanced” in its planning for the battery plant. He said the gigafactory is being developed in conjunction with the third-generation car, which will cost about $35,000 and hit the market in late 2016.

  • The plant is meant to produce the batteries in high volumes at lower costs as a way to help the company drive down the price of the Gen 3 car. Musk said he was optimistic the company could do better than its 30 percent target on cost reduction, and supplier partner Panasonic was also convinced.   (Panasonic previously said it expected to be the sole manufacturer in Tesla’s gigafactory.)

After the Gen 3 car, Musk said, it makes sense for Tesla to look at building electric trucks and probably a vehicle that would cost less than $35,000.

Musk also said Tesla is making progress on developing self-driving technology for its cars, and he added he was confident that within a year, the automotive industry will allow drivers to go from highway on-ramp to exit without touching any vehicle controls.

(If anyone can do it – he can!  Jan)


Air pockets in shell keep old eggs afloat

            Ask Lisa

          Lisa Abraham

Q: Is there a foolproof way to tell whether an egg is old?
— J.F., Columbus

A: If you have concerns that an egg isn’t fresh, simply place it in a bowl of water.

A fresh egg sinks to the bottom. A very old egg floats on top of the water. Any egg that floats is too old to eat and should be discarded.

The science behind this test stems from the amount of air inside the eggshell (the fat, hollow end of the egg, that is).

The older an egg, the larger the air pocket and the less dense the egg becomes inside its shell — causing the wide end of the egg to bob in water and eventually float.

*                  *                  *                 *                 *

Ask a food or cooking question by writing Ask Lisa at The Dispatch, 34 S. 3rd St., Columbus, OH 43215; calling 614-461-5529; or sending email to labraham@dispatch.  com  , with “Ask Lisa” in the subject line. Include your name, address and phone number. (Initials are printed on request.)

(Of course, I had  to try this out. . . .even tho I use organic, cage-free brown eggs which I expect to not be subject to this because they cost more – am I crazy?  Can’t tell.  A few of them, the bigger end referred to,   DID rise a little more off the bottom. . . but they didn’t ‘float’ — so I’m hoping that I’m safe.  Jan)


Food safety

2 men sold eggs that sickened thousands

By P.J. Huffstutter REUTERS

CHICAGO — Quality Egg LLC and two top executives admitted yesterday to selling substandard eggs containing a “poisonous” substance and bribing a federal inspector in a food-safety scandal that sickened tens of thousands of people, the Justice Department said.

The Iowa-based company, once among the nation’s largest producers of chicken eggs, along with owners Austin and Peter DeCoster, pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges in connection with the massive nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010.

  • An estimated 62,000 consumers fell ill during the outbreak after eating eggs tainted with salmonella enteriditis.

Quality Egg pleaded guilty to selling eggs mislabeled to hide how old they were; bribing a U.S. Agriculture Department inspector to allow poor-quality chicken eggs to be sold to the public; and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to the Justice Department.

Yesterday’s plea hearing was held in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa.

The company has agreed to pay about $6.8 million in fines, according to consent agreements filed in federal court. The ultimate fine will be determined by the court at a sentencing hearing yet to be scheduled, according to a Justice Department spokesman.

Attorneys for Austin “Jack” DeCoster, 79; his son Peter, 51; and the company could not be reached for comment.

The DeCosters also each pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. Each of the men paid the court $100,000, to be applied toward fines.

The DeCosters could each face up to a year in prison and pay additional restitution to people injured in the salmonella outbreak, according to the court filings. Both men were released on bond.

Beginning in 2005, DeCoster was involved in Ohio Fresh Eggs in Licking, Hardin and Wyandot counties; the operations had a record of environmental problems. The state soon tried to shut down the farm, revoking its permits under charges that the company had hidden its involvement with DeCoster.

In 2011, the DeCosters gave up control of operations in Ohio, Iowa and Maine, including farms that produced salmonella-tainted eggs. Trillium Farms took over the Ohio farms.

(Sometimes Justice seems to move so slowly. . . I suppose  we really should be grateful that we have anybody on our side at all  — health and decency, I mean.   Anyway, if the tip just above can be a help to us in this area, we could try to stay ahead of this particular curve.    Jan)



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