MDARD Laboratory Highlights ‘Food Safety Education Month’

MDARD Laboratory Highlights ‘Food Safety Education Month’

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For immediate release: September 28, 2023
MDARD media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

MDARD Laboratory Highlights ‘Food Safety Education Month’ by Testing Cantaloupes for Salmonella

LANSING, MI – September is National Food Safety Education and Awareness Month, and employees at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) William C. Geagley Laboratory are showcasing how they protect Michigander’s food supply and public health from foodborne illness.

Routinely, MDARD food inspectors bring in a variety of food samples to Geagley’s Food Safety Microbiology Laboratory for testing to make sure the food we eat is safe. In past years, Michigan has seen outbreaks of salmonella in cantaloupes. Through microbiological testing and whole genome sequencing, cantaloupes can be tested to ensure a proactive food safety environment.

“Our Geagley Laboratory ranks as one of the nation’s top chemistry pesticide and food safety laboratories and serves as one of the most important consumer protection watchdogs in Michigan,” said Craig VanBuren, Laboratory Division Director. “Work is being done around the clock within our labs to ensure we’re protecting Michigan’s food supply and the public health of Michiganders.”

Watch the process of how MDARD tests for salmonella: Testing for Salmonella in Melons – YouTube

FoodSafety_Testing_MDARDProtecting the food supply, reducing the risk of foodborne illness, and responding to foodborne illness outbreaks are high priority efforts for MDARD, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state’s local health departments, and federal agency partners.

For more information on how to prevent foodborne illness or how to report suspected cases of foodborne illness, visit

Consumer Advisory: Drivers Credit Account Monitoring

Consumer Advisory: Drivers Credit Account Monitoring


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For immediate release: August 30, 2023
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Consumer Advisory: MDARD Reminds Drivers, Visitors to be Vigilant with Bank, Credit Account Monitoring Over Labor Day Weekend

Lansing, MI – As Michiganders approach the Labor Day holiday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) urges consumers, drivers, and visitors to remain vigilant for potential credit card skimming throughout the holiday. Credit card skimmers cannot be seen outside the gas pump. These devices are inside the pump, stealing the consumer’s credit/debit card information.

“We want Michiganders traveling over the holiday weekend to know we’re working to keep them  protected,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “MDARD inspectors play a critical role in protecting motorists, truckers, and their wallets at the gas pump. They look for skimmers during every routine pump inspection and check gas for both quality and quantity. We want Michiganders to know when they fill up, they’re getting every dollar worth of gas into their tank.”

While most gas station operators are delivering the proper quality and quantity of fuel, motorists can help increase their protection by making sure the price display on the pump is set to zero before the pump starts and verifying the sign on the roadway matches the price on the pump before fueling. In addition, consumers should always request a receipt as a record of their purchase.

“Michigan boasts over a 90% compliance rate on fuel pumps, largely due to the hard work of our weights and measures staff,” added Craig VanBuren, MDARD’s Lab Division Director. “The non-compliance issues can be attributed to various reasons, including display malfunction or even providing too much fuel. Less than a quarter percent of devices we test fail to deliver too little fuel. MDARD works with our station owners and operators to help them get back into compliance.”

MDARD continues to work with the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement, who are the lead agencies on these investigations, to try track down the thieves. The department will continue to look for skimmers during every routine pump inspection.

The Motor Fuels Hot Line, 800-MDA-FUEL or 800-632-3835, is used for reporting suspected poor fuel quality or pump shortages. It is posted on the pumps at every filling station in the state.

For additional information on MDARD’s Weights and Measures Program, please visit


Keep Animals Safe this Labor Day Holiday

Keep Animals Safe this Labor Day Holiday

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For immediate release: August 29, 2023
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

MDARD Encourages Owners to Help Keep Their Animals Safe this Labor Day Holiday

Keep animals happy and healthy as they enjoy the last days of summer fun

LANSING, MI—As Michiganders prepare to celebrate the last days of summer, this Labor Day holiday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) would like to remind owners of some of the best ways to keep their animals healthy and safe.

“When making any holiday plans, it is important not to overlook the needs of our animals,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “From ensuring that they are fully vaccinated to making sure they are cool and comfortable when the heat index is high or the air quality is poor, there are many precautions owners can take to keep their animals safe this Labor Day.”

Keep animals safe this holiday by following these six easy tips:

  • Vax & Relax: Keep animals up to date on routine vaccinations

Vaccinations are central to animals’ preventative care as the vaccines can protect animals against common diseases, such as rabies and distemper. Contact your veterinarian to ensure your animals’ vaccinations are complete and/or to schedule an appointment.

  • Let it Flow: Provide unlimited cool, clean, fresh water

Just like people, animals can quickly get parched in hot temperatures. No matter the species, animals should have access to unlimited cool, clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration.

  • Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding animals people foods

    While it may be tempting to toss your animals a few crispy nuggets from the grill, they cannot enjoy all the same foods and treats as we do. Salty, fatty, and/or highly seasoned foods (like chips, nuts, and meat fat) can cause digestive upset. Also, chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) can be poisonous to animals; and bones can cause injury and illness as well.

  • Know Their Limits: An animal’s ability to tolerate heat varies

An animal’s age, breed, type of coat, and health history can all play a role in their ability to tolerate the heat. Keep an eye on them for signs of heat stress—like increased panting or drooling and being more lethargic. If they are showing these signs, it is time to immediately move them to a cooler area.

Also, consider talking to your veterinarian. They will have a greater knowledge of your animal(s) and be able to give more specific guidance on how to best handle them in hot weather.

  • Look Before They Splash: Avoid harmful algal blooms (HABs) in bodies of water

HABs form due to a rapid growth of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, which are naturally found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. To prevent illness in animals, keep them out of areas with scums or discolored water, rinse them off after contact with any lake water, and bring clean, fresh water for them to drink. If an animal becomes sick after contact with a suspected HAB, call your veterinarian right away.

Also, animal illness due to HABs is reportable to MDARD. To report cases, submit a Reportable Disease Form or call 800-292-3939.

  • Search No More: Make sure animals have proper identification

With all the summer fun and outdoor activities, it can be easy for animals to sneak away and become lost. Make sure they have identification tags and/or microchips that are up to date with your current contact information, ensuring a better chance they can be returned home.

These tips can help keep your animals safe and healthy throughout the holiday. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health now or throughout the year, please talk to your veterinarian.

Dairy Grant Accepting Applications Until October 19

Dairy Grant Accepting Applications Until October 19

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For immediate release: August 28, 2023
Media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
DBIA program contact: Shelby Anderson, 608-262-8015

 Dairy Business Builder Grant Now Accepting Applications Until October 19, 2023

Michigan dairy farms and processors are encouraged to apply

LANSING, Mich. – Last year the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) launched its Dairy Business Builder Grant opportunity with eligibility for Michigan companies with MDARD joining the federal DBIA program in September of 2022. This grant aims to encourage small- to medium-sized dairy farmers, entrepreneurs, and processors in the Midwest pursue projects such as dairy farm diversification, on-farm processing, value-added product creation, and efforts to market dairy products for export.

“Our state’s farms and food processers are creating quintessential “Made in Michigan” products every day. The DBIA program supports our dairy industry by providing additional funding availability for our dairy farmers and processors to help them increase and streamline their processing,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “Michigan’s dairy industry is an important part of our state’s economic engine, and these opportunities further our investments in our rural and agricultural communities.”

Since its creation of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the DBIA has administered technical assistance and over $7.5 million in grant funding to dairy businesses throughout the Midwest. Reimbursement grants of up to $100,000 each will be awarded to different dairy businesses after a competitive review process.

During previous rounds of funding, six Michigan companies received $2.4 million in grants. Selected businesses include Dairy Distillery Alliance in Constantine, Charlevoix Cheese Company, Furniture City Creamery in Grand Rapids, Saltless Sea Creamery in Traverse City, Semifreddo LLC in Hart, Thistle Dew Creamery in Vassar, and VernDale Products Inc. in Detroit. Previous award recipients can be found here.

A “Helpful Hints” webinar for the Dairy Business Builder Grant was recorded on August 22, 2023 and is available on their website. Applications for the grant will be accepted until October 18, 2023 at 6pm EDT. Applications will then be reviewed, and award announcements will be made in December.

MDARD: Be Vigilant when Purchasing a New Pet

MDARD: Be Vigilant when Purchasing a New Pet

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For immediate release: July 12, 2023
Media contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151

Consumer Advisory: MDARD Reminds Michiganders to be Vigilant when Purchasing a New Pet

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is urging all Michiganders to be cautious when purchasing new animals, especially dogs. Scammers are using fake Michigan dog breeder licenses to further the ruse that they have credible, legitimate businesses in order to cheat people out of their money.

MDARD recently learned of two cases where individuals were trying to purchase a small breed puppy from an online source. In an attempt to show the validity of their business, the scammers sent these individuals a copy of their supposed Michigan dog breeder license. As part of their own due diligence, these individuals contacted MDARD to confirm Michigan’s licensure of these kennels, revealing the dog breeder license to be a fake.

“While it is unfortunate that scammers were trying to use fake Michigan dog breeder licenses to deceive consumers, I’m glad the potential buyers contacted MDARD first, and we helped to identify the scam in both instances,” said Dr. Nora Wineland, State Veterinarian. “At MDARD, we are ready to assist Michiganders whenever there are any questions related to our programs.”

“Bringing home a new furry family member is a big decision and those who purchase from breeders should be sure that the breeder is licensed and providing healthy animals,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Adopting a pet from a local shelter is also an option, but wherever animal lovers choose to find their pet, they should adhere to best practices to avoid being a pet scam victim. My office is committed to holding accountable anyone who takes advantage of Michigan residents looking to add a pet to their family.”

While there are many different types of dog kennels, MDARD has oversight over one specific type—large-scale dog breeding kennels. This program registers and inspects dog breeding kennels with more than 15 intact breeding female dogs that have whelped before. This oversight helps to make sure specific standards are met to ensure animals are healthy and receive adequate care. These breeders are required to provide a Pet Health Certificate with each dog or puppy they sell. Currently, there are 14 large-scale dog breeding kennels in Michigan registered and inspected by MDARD.

Both large-scale dog breeding kennels and smaller dog breeding kennels may be licensed and inspected through local levels of government, including townships, cities, and counties. The exact number of these small-scale operations within the state is unknown.

When purchasing a new pet, it is important to complete your own due diligence on the breeder before agreeing to spend/send any money to them. If you have questions related to a large-scale dog breeding kennel or any animal-related facility that appears to be licensed through the State of Michigan, please call MDARD at 800-292-3939.

If you have questions related to small-scale dog breeding kennels, please contact the local unit of government where the seller operates their business.

Beyond looking into the breeder, the Better Business Bureau encourages those looking for a new pet through an online source to follow four key tips:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person or through a live video call.
  • Conduct a reverse image search of the picture of the pet you are considering to see if the same picture appears on multiple websites.
  • Avoid wiring money or using a cash app or gift card.
  • Think twice if someone advertises a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price.

If you think you may have been in contact with or victimized by one of these scammers, please contact your local police department and report the scam to the Michigan Department of Attorney General. If you think you have provided a payment to a scammer, please contact your banking institution immediately.

For more information on how to identify and protect yourself from scams, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website or the Better Business Bureau.

Editor’s Note: The included image is an example of the type of fake licensure used in these scams.


Whitmer Proclaims July as Farm to Summer Month

Whitmer Proclaims July as Farm to Summer Month

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For immediate release: July 3, 2023
MDARD media contact: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151
MDE media contact: Marty Ackley, 517-241-7018

 Governor Whitmer Proclaims July as Farm to Summer Month

Fresh, local products served to Michigan kids at ‘Meet Up and Eat Up’ sites across the state this summer

Lansing, MI – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared July 2023 as Farm to Summer month to celebrate Michigan’s local food and agriculture products and promoting the use of local, in-season produce at summer feeding sites located at schools and non-profits across the state.

“Farm to Summer provides a great opportunity to add fresh, local Michigan products to the U.S.  Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program,” said Governor Whitmer. “Providing nutritious meals to Michigan kids during the summer months will help them succeed in the next school year, and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables supports our farm families and communities – a win/win for Michigan.”

Officially known in Michigan as Summer Food Service Program’s (SFSP) Meet Up and Eat Up, this program provides free, nutritious meals during the summer to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas, where 50 percent or more of the students in the area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

“The future of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry is in the hands of younger generations, and it’s important for young Michiganders to learn about our local food and agriculture products,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “Summer programs that focus on teaching healthy habits and highlighting Michigan-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, combined with supplying healthy, fresh and nutritious meals to kids, will ensure a bright future for Michigan’s food and agricultural industry.”

Farm to Summer provides an opportunity to increase the purchase and promotion of Michigan products on menus; serve fresh, locally grown produce to children at SFSP Meet Up Eat Up sites; and provide enrichment opportunities to engage children to learn about Michigan agriculture, all during a time when schools are not in session.

Early child care education programs, children, and teens receive many benefits from the SFSP, including fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables, which are in peak production during the summer months. Students learn where Michigan-grown products come from, including local Michigan farms, gardens, and producers. SFSP meal sites help children develop heathy habits through hands-on learning activities and educational opportunities, including gardening and taste-testing of a variety of Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.

“Filling the summer hunger gap is crucial because it sustains children’s health and can reduce any summer learning loss,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Farm to Summer and our Summer Food Service Program connect Michigan children with healthy food choices, how healthy food is grown locally, and benefits their capacity to continue learning through the summer months.”

Michigan is one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the U.S., leading the nation in the production of dry black beans, dry cranberry beans, tart cherries, asparagus, cucumbers, dry navy beans, squash, and dry small red beans, and ranking high in the production of blueberries, summer squash, bell peppers, peaches, carrots, celery, sweet cherries, apples, fresh sweet corn, and many other specialty crops. The state has more than 46,000 farms producing a wide variety of crops on nearly 10 million acres of farmland. Michigan’s food and agriculture system employs over 805,000 people, about 17.2 percent of the state’s workforce. This contributes more than $104.7 billion to the state’s economy annually.

SFSP sponsors can take advantage of Michigan’s growing season and source many locally grown products into their menus. SFSP is encouraging meal sites to celebrate Farm to Summer with special activities during July that highlight fruits and vegetables, fun recipes, and educational and physical activities.

Read the full Michigan Farm to Summer proclamation here

Resources for SFSP Meet Up and Eat Up Sites:

Farm to Summer Factsheet | Food and Nutrition Service (

Farm to Summer | Food and Nutrition Service (

Meet Up and Eat Up Outreach Materials (