Australian University Evacuated After Rotten Durian Smell Mistaken for Gas Leak

Mohd Rasfan, AFP/Getty Images
Mohd Rasfan, AFP/Getty Images

If you’ve ever been within sniffing distance of a durian, you would know it: The odor of the Southeast Asian fruit has been compared to decaying flesh, old garbage, and rotten eggs. The scent is so pungent that it prompted the recent evacuation of a university library in Melbourne, Australia, the Australian Associated Press reports.

Firefighters were called to investigate the scene on Saturday, April 28 after a strong smell was reported in the university library of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Police initially suspected it was a gas leak coming from the potentially harmful chemicals stored at the site. It was only after about 600 students and faculty members were evacuated that firefighters wearing gas masks discovered the true source of the stench: a durian that had been left to rot in a cupboard.

Putrid gases from the fruit had made their way into the air conditioning system, where they circulated thoughout the building and got the attention of the inhabitants. Though durian isn’t toxic, the fruit’s rancid remains are being dealt with by the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria.

Evacuating an entire building over some old produce may seem like an overreaction, but the room-clearing power of durian is taken seriously in other parts of the world. The fruit is banned in some hotels in Southeast Asia, and the Singapore subway famously posts signs warning passengers not to carry it onto trains.

[h/t Australian Associated Press]

Foster Families Can Shop for Free Clothing at This Western New York Charity

iStock.com/goodmoments
iStock.com/goodmoments

There are nearly 438,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and many of them come to their foster families needing clothes and shoes. Erin Richeal, Cheryl Flick, and Kara Brody, three foster parents from western New York, have gotten together to start a free clothing bank dedicated to providing foster kids with the wardrobe staples they need, WGRZ reports.

Foster Love Closet is a free clothing bank located in the Town Line Lutheran Church in Alden, New York, and it's now collecting donations. Open two days a week, the foster kid charity allows foster families to pick up a week's worth of kids' clothing at a time. Items like shirts and pants, as well as extra necessities like coats, socks, shoes, underwear, and pajamas, are set up in the charity's 2000-square-foot space. All socks and underwear are brand new, and any other items are either new or gently used.

There's something for foster kids of all ages, from infants to older teens. Foster parents with valid placement papers and a photo ID are welcome to pick up clothes for their foster kids four times a year, or whenever a new child moves into their home. Families are encouraged to bring their foster kids along to "shop" for the free clothes.

If you're looking to contribute to the Foster Love Closet's inventory, the center is now accepting clothes free of rips, holes, and stains that are appropriate for the spring and summer months. You can also support them by purchasing something off their Amazon wishlist.

[h/t WGRZ]

FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

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