Category Archives: Food Safety
The H1N1 flu epidemic that struck in 2009 killed may have killed 15 times more people than reported, according to a new study in Lancet Infectious Diseases. According to the study, during the pandemic 18,500 laboratory-confirmed deaths were reported to the World Health Organization from April 2009 through August 2010, but as many as 575,400 people may have actually died, according to a review of the epidemic by an international group of scientists. The study also found that the majority of deaths were in people under 65, although in seasonal flu those over 65 are more likely to die of the virus, and populations in low-income countries were particularly hard hit. Read more on flu.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new guidelines in the Annals of Internal Medicine recommending that doctors screen all of their patients for obesity and, if appropriate, refer them to a lifestyle-management program to help them lose weight. The task force report did not discuss weight loss drugs or bariatric surgery. Read more on obesity.
Young children with allergies to milk and egg experience reactions to these and other foods more often than researchers had expected, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Pediatrics. The study researchers also found that caregivers often fail to give epinephrine, which can be life saving, when a reaction occurs. Read more on children's health.
A new analysis by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds that that mild or intense physical activity before or after menopause may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. However, weight gain may negate the benefit of the exercise. The study was published in the journal Cancer.
The study included 1,504 women with breast cancer and 1,555 women without breast cancer who were between the ages of 20 and 98, and were part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, an investigation of possible environmental causes of breast cancer. Read more on cancer.
The Dole Company is recalling bagged salads from Kroger and Walmart stores in six states because of possible contamination with listeria. No illnesses have been reported so far. Read more on food safety.
Cancer cases are expected to increase 75 percent throughout the world by 2030, according to a new study published in Lancet Oncology. In the poorest nations, cancer cases could increase by 90 percent.
The study, which used 2008 data on 184 countries from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, finds that while cases of cervical and stomach cancer may be declining, other types of cancer including colorectal, breast and prostate cancer are increasing, likely because of lifestyle changes including higher fat diets and less exercise.
The researchers also say current smoking rates in poorer countries could mean higher lung cancer rates in the future. Read more on global health.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will begin a zero-tolerance policy for six additional strains of E. coli in raw beef starting Monday June 4. FSIS will routinely test raw beef for the six additional strains. If contamination is found the beef cannot be sold, and distributed meat will be recalled.
The additional strains can cause severe illness and even death especially in young children, older adults and people who immune system is weakened. Read more on food safety.
Black and Latino children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from acute asthma symptoms in their teens than asthma sufferers whose mothers did not smoke, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The study looked at data on 2,500 Latino and Black children with asthma between the ages of 8 and 17 and found that if mothers smoked while pregnant, their children had about a 50 percent increase in uncontrolled asthma, even when other factors such as income and exposure to secondhand smoke were taken into account. "Kids who are 17 years old still show the effects of something they were exposed to during the first nine months of life," says Sam S. Oh, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral scholar in epidemiology at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Research and Education, who is the lead author on the study. Read more asthma news.
The New York Times is reporting that New York City Mayor Bloomberg plans to ban sales of single serving sugared sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theatres and outdoor food carts. The ban could take effect next March.
Genetics can help determine whether a person is likely to quit smoking on his or her own or need medication to improve the chances of success, according to research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health identified several nicotine receptor genes, which are known to contribute to nicotine dependence and heavy smoking.
A clinical trial showed that smokers with the high-risk genes were more likely to fail in their quit attempts compared to those with the low-risk genes when treated with placebo. Smokers with the highest risk had a three-fold increase in their odds of quitting at the end of treatment compared to placebo. “This study builds on our knowledge of genetic vulnerability to nicotine dependence, and will help us tailor smoking cessation strategies accordingly,” said Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Read more tobacco news.
A new report from the National Academy of Sciences finds that the current academic focus of veterinary training on companion pets rather than farm animals is directing resources away from basic research, food production and public service. The report finds current training may be insufficient to protect and advance animal and human health, particularly in growing areas of concern such as food safety and infectious disease. Read more on food safety.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded a bagged lettuce recall because of possible contamination with listeria bacteria, and recalled bagged spinach because of possible contamination with salmonella. No illnesses have been linked to either recall so far.
The FDA discovered the contaminated products during routine inspections.
Recent changes to the FDA’s product recall website may make it easier for people to find out whether they have bought or used a recalled product. Previously the information was available only in text form, but last month the agency created a table for each food recall it reports with information that includes the recall date, brand name, product description, the reason for the recall, the name of the company, and, perhaps most importantly, a photo of what the recalled package looks like. People may not remember a brand name but they can compare graphics and colors on a recalled package to what they have on pantry shelves or in the fridge.
The new chart won’t prevent food-borne disease outbreaks and other health problems linked to recalls from happening in the first place, of course, but may keep some people from getting sick or help people get medical treatment faster.
Pre-teens living in states that require vaccinations for incoming middle school students are more likely to be immunized than those in states that simply require parents to receive information about the vaccines, according to a study in Pediatrics.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed school entry requirements in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the 2008-2009 school years and compared them to adolescent vaccination rates for three vaccines: TdaP, meningitis and HPV. Compared to states with no requirements, vaccination coverage was significantly higher for the meningitis (71 percent versus 53 percent) and TdaP (80 percent versus 70 percent) vaccines.
The Department of Transportation has announced a month-long web-based dialogue May 7 to June 8, to help facilitate discussion about local transportation needs, challenges and opportunities facing military veterans, wounded service people and military service members and their families. Military families, veterans and organizations that support them are invited to participate in the discussion to create options to improve access to transportation. Registered participants will be able to offer an idea, a comment or vote on ideas they see on the site. A public report will be issued after the dialogue period ends.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that at least sixteen people have been sickened by dry dog food made by Diamond Pet Foods that may be tainted by salmonella. Humans may have become infected by touching the food or a pet that ate the food. The company has recalled the products. CDC is advising that:
- Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products and discard them promptly. Contact Diamond Pet Foods for more information at (800) 442-0402 or www.diamondpetrecall.com.
- Follow tips listed on Salmonella from Dry Pet Food and Treats to help prevent an infection with Salmonella from handling dry pet food and treats.
- People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult their health care providers. For sick animals, contact your veterinary-care providers.
A new survey by the MetLife Foundation and the Partnership at DrugFree.org finds that marijuana use is becoming a more acceptable behavior among teens and heavy marijuana use is now at very high levels.
Nearly half of teens (47 percent) have ever used marijuana – a 21 percent increase since 2008, and two out of every five teens (39 percent) have tried marijuana in the past year, up from 31 percent in 2008. Past-month use has increased 42 percent from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2011. Heavy monthly use (20 or more times) rose from 5 percent in 2008 to 9 percent in 2011. The survey also found that teen boys are more frequent users of marijuana than teen girls.
Postmenopausal women who were overweight or obese and lost at least 5 percent of their body weight had a significant reduction in markers of inflammation, according to a study published in Cancer Research.
The study authors say both obesity and inflammation have been shown to be related to several types of cancer, and that the study shows that if you reduce weight, you can reduce inflammation as well.
A salmonella outbreak linked to a frozen yellow fin tuna product has now sickened 258 people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, according to an update released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. At least 32 people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.
The CDC says it is now including two types of salmonella in the outbreak strains--Salmonella Bareilly (247 cases) and Salmonella Nchanga (11 cases).
On April 16, nearly 59,000 pounds of tuna product linked to the outbreak -- labeled Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA -- were recalled by Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif. The product, which is scraped off fish bones, was sold to grocery stores and restaurants to make dishes such as sushi, sashimi and ceviche.
The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California. The USDA says the animal will be destroyed and had not been for slaughtered for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, according to USDA, milk does not transmit BSE.
The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2012 report, released today, finds that in America’s most polluted cities, air quality was at its cleanest since the organization began releasing the report thirteen years ago as efforts continue to make environmental hazards.
However, the report shows that more than 40 percent of people in the U.S. live in areas where air pollution continues to threaten their health--127 million people are living in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution that can cause serious health problems such as wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death.
Implantable pacemakers or defibrillators may pose a risk for developing deadly infections, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study shows that more than 4.2 million people in the US had a permanent pacemaker or defibrillator implanted between 1993 and 2008, and that infections related to heart devices infections increased 210 percent during that time, according to the study.
The study authors say a contributing factor may be that some patients may have other medical conditions and be particularly vulnerable to developing infections.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a new report that details steps the agency is taking to ensure that imported food, drugs, medical devices and other regulated products meet the same standards for safety and quality as those manufactured in the United States.
According to the agency, global production of FDA-regulated goods and materials has grown significantly in the last decade:
- FDA-regulated products originate from more than 150 countries; 130,000 importers and 300,000 foreign facilities.
- Each year from 2005 through 2011, food imports have grown by an average of 10 percent, pharmaceutical products by nearly 13 percent and device imports by more than 10 percent.
- About half of all fresh fruits and 20 percent of fresh vegetables, as well as 80 percent of the seafood consumed in America, come from abroad.
- More than 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients used to make medicines are imported.
The agency says that through its international offices in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, the FDA is increasing its knowledge base about local regulatory systems, and improving what foreign governments and industries know about FDA regulations and standards for products that will be sold in the United States. The agency says it is also collaborating to strengthen regulatory science and evidenced-based approaches to product safety and quality.
Read the Global Engagement Report.
A study in the Canadian Medical Journal tested food items sold at six fast food chains in six countries and found that the items in U.S. and Canadian restaurants were are often saltier than the same food items sold in those chains in other countries. Read more on nutrition.
A new study in Pediatrics finds that decade-old techniques appear to calm crying babies who have received their routine vaccination shots.
Called the "Five S's," the techniques include: swaddling the baby tightly in a blanket; laying the baby sideways or on the stomach while awake; shushing; swinging the baby back and forth; and providing the baby with something to suck on such as a pacifier. The study of 230 infants found that those who received the "Five S's" immediately after being vaccinated had less pain and stopped crying sooner than those who received a sugar solution, which is a common infant pain relief technique. Read more on maternal and infant health.
Multi-State Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Tuna, Bagged Salad
Multi-state outbreaks of salmonella have been reported in recent days by the Food and Drug Administration. At least 116 people have been sickened in twenty states by frozen yellow fin tuna. And a random inspection resulted in the recall of cases of lettuce made by the Dole Food Co., though no illnesses have been reported. Get more food safety news.
Many low- and middle-income nations don’t have technologically advanced regulatory systems, which limits their oversight of food and drug safety, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report recommends 13 steps that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies can take over the next three to five years to bolster the safety systems in developing nations. They include:
- Developed nations should share technical expertise, training, and tools to strengthen the surveillance systems in developing countries.
- The United States should work with Mexico, the host of the next meeting of the G20 nations, to add food and medical product safety to the G20 agenda.
- FDA should evaluate its pilot Secure Supply Chain pilot program, which rewards firms that can track their products from manufacture to market with expedited entry into the U.S. market. If successful, FDA should expand the program to more drug firms and to food companies.
Read more food safety news.
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education have launched a new website to encourage children, parents, educators and communities to take action to stop and prevent bullying.
The website provides a map with detailed information on state laws and policies, interactive webisodes and videos for young people, practical strategies for schools and communities to ensure safe environments, and suggestions on how parents can talk about bullying with their children. Read more on a recent documentary that tells the stories of kids who were bullied.
A new study by scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health finds that neighborhood differences in rates of childhood asthma may be explained by varying levels of air pollution from trucks and residential heating oil. Read more on environmental health.