October 25, 2014

On World Food Day, U.N. Warns of Ebola Food Crisis


Today is World Food Day. The U.N. said that the Ebola crisis in Africa is causing a food crisis. The U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP) needs to reach 1.3 million people in need of food in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the hardest-hit regions in the outbreak. That agency has supplied more than half a million people in those areas with food. Denise Brown, WFP's Regional Director for West Africa said in a statement, "the world is mobilizing and we need to reach the smallest villages in the most remote locations. Indications are that things will only get worse before they improve. How much worse depends on us all." Border closures, market closures, and restricted travel threaten food access to many in the region. The WFP provides food to patients at Ebola treatment facilities and to … [Read more...]

Oregon E. coli Death Spotlights Barnyard Risks For Children


Oregon health authorities have not disclosed the findings of their ongoing investigation into the September E.coli death of 4-year-old Serena Profitt and the E.coli illness of her friend Brad Sutton, 5. But Serena's mother, Rachel Profitt, told The Oregonian in an interview that the family's pet goat is considered a prime suspect. Profitt said there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the illness and death of her daughter. E. coli was found in the goat's droppings but, but officials have not confirmed if it was a genetic match to the strain that sickened Serena and Brad. Goat dropping were among the samples health officials collected from the Profitt home, but stool samples from family members, including 2-year-old Hannah who was also sick around the time Serena became … [Read more...]

Celebrate World Handwashing Day By Singing Happy Birthday, Twice


Today is World Handwashing Day and one of the best ways to celebrate is to wash your hands with soap and running water for as long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday, twice. Global Handwashing Day was originally created for school-age children but has expanded to include teaching everyone about one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease. "Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter," according to the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (GPPPH). Handwashing with soap  and water  is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent … [Read more...]

Albuquerque and Santa Fe Resolutions Against Farm Antibiotic Use


The City Councils of Albuquerque and Santa Fe have passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass national legislation against the unnecessary use of antibiotics on factory farms. Council Members said that they want to make a statement to their federal delegations and to start discussions about this issue at the local level. Eighty percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. are used on factory farms to animals that are not sick. They are used for growth promotion and to prevent disease in poor conditions. FDA recently asked the makers of animal antibiotics to stop use of the drugs in growth promotion, but this was only a "guidance document" and not a law. And farmers can still use the drugs to prevent disease. This overuse creates bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Eleanor … [Read more...]

EPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo 2,4-D Herbicide


Against many objections from consumer advocates, food safety advocates, and environmentalists, the EPA approved Dow Chemical's Enlist Duo herbicide, a new blend of 2,4-D and glyphosate that will be used on Dow's GMO corn and soybeans. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been implicated in many diseases, including cancer. And 2,4-D is part of the chemical Agent Orange, used in the Vietnam War, that has sickened and killed many veterans. Dow developed Roundup Ready crops that were resistant to the herbicide. Those plants could be sprayed with Roundup and not be harmed. That use caused an explosion in Roundup resistant weeds. So Dow decided to develop more GMO crops that are resistant to this new herbicide. 2,4-D is linked to reproductive problems, Parkinson's disease, and … [Read more...]

CFIA Releases Microbiological Monitoring Program 2011-2012


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released its National Microbiological Monitoring Program 2011-2012 Annual Report. The report shows that more than 98% of foods sampled met Health Canada safety guidelines and standards. The government tests a wide range of food for microbial hazards and extraneous material such as glass and metal objects. The testing covers red meat, poultry products, shell eggs, egg products, dairy products, and fresh and processed fruit and vegetable 3products. The Canadian government requires that all foods must comply with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, which determine criteria for safe food and place restrictions on the production, importation, sale, composition, and content of food. The National Microbiological Monitoring Program samples … [Read more...]

Perdue and HSUS Reach Settlement over Chicken Labeling


The Humane Society of the United States and Perdue Farms have reached a settlement of two federal cases over Perdue's "humanely raised" claim on its Harvestland chicken labels. HSUS will dismiss their claims with prejudice, in exchange for Perdue removing the label claim. Peter Petersan, Director of Animal Protection Litigation for HSUS said in a statement, "we are pleased to see the claim removed from Harvestland's packaging, which we view to be misleading. We will continue to work to protect both animals and consumers." HSUS sued Perdue twice. The first was in New Jersey. Perdue tried to have a similar case dismissed, which paved the way for that action to proceed. The second lawsuit, a class action matter, was filed on behalf of Florida consumers and alleged that Perdue raised … [Read more...]

Animal Abuse Recorded in Canada at Western Hog Exchange


Mercy for Animals Canada has recorded inhumane treatment of pigs at a Canadian processing facility. Workers at Western Hog Exchange in Red Deer, Alberta were forcing animals to walk with electric prods and using bats to force pigs to move through crowded pens. That facility is federally monitored, and inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are on the footage. In fact, some inspectors gave the workers electric prods to use on the animals. One inspector said "if anybody has a camera, this'll be on the internet." The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has released a statement about "allegations" of inhumane treatment of the animal at that facility. They say, "Animal abuse is unacceptable, and we do not tolerate it under any circumstances." An internal review has begun at the … [Read more...]

FDA Issues Sit and Slim II Warning for Unapproved Drugs


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers not to purchase or use Sit and Slim II which contains the unapproved drugs sibutramine and phenolphthalein. The product is marketed as a weight loss aid. Sibutramine was removed from the market in October 2010 for safety reasons. The product poses a health threat to consumers because it can substantially increase blood pressure and pulse rate. This poses serious problems for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke. The drug can also interact with other medications and cause a  life-threatening situation. Phenolphthalein is an unapproved drug in the United States. Studies have shown that it presents a cancer-causing risk. Health care professionals and … [Read more...]

Researchers Put E. coli to a Litmus Test

E. coli Bacteria

Canadian researchers have adapted a litmus paper to detect E. coli. Researchers Yingfu Li and Kha Tram said they wanted to make testing kits that used a simple technology everyone could operate. The litmus paper test allows results to be seen with the naked eye. The yellow paper turns dark blue in the presence of E.coli. The researchers say they are excited to expand the technology to include the detection of other pathogens and to adapt it for use in other fields such as genetics and cancer testing. Their work was published in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie. Every year, about 265,000 Americans are diagnosed with E.coli infections. These infections happen when people ingest microscopic amounts of human or animal feces.  This can happen from eating food that is … [Read more...]

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