Food-safety issues abound near U.S. Capitol
News21 reporters find salmonella-contaminated chicken, among other violations, at the Agriculture Department’s own farmer’s market in Washington
Maggie Clark, Esther French and Mattea Kramer
Outside the Department of Agriculture headquarters on Independence Avenue, government workers and tourists shop for fresh produce, poultry, popcorn, baked goods and hot lunches.
Like farmers’ markets across America, this one sponsored by the USDA is thriving, propelled by a national craving for fresh food and the perception that locally grown food is healthier than food mass-produced by big agriculture and sold in grocery stores.
But commercial tests found pathogens on raw chickens sold by a Virginia farmer at the USDA market that could be harmful if the poultry were not properly cooked, according to an investigation by News21, a national university reporting project at the University of Maryland. The same was true of poultry sold by a Pennsylvania farmer at a Vermont Avenue market nearby. (iwatch news)
Farmers Markets Thrive While Concerns Grow
Small farms and local markets bear the ultimate responsibility for the safety of food they sell and buy.
Laws Haven’t Kept Deadly Pathogens Out of Meat, Poultry
A complex system of self-regulation leaves the safety of meat and poultry largely in the hands of private companies.
Teresa Lostroh and Rachel Albin
Almost 9 million pounds of meat and poultry was recalled in 2010 because of the potential for foodborne illness after it had already been approved under America’s strictest food regulations.
While most of what Americans eat is the responsibility of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Food Safety and Inspection Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees meat and poultry.
Every USDA-inspected food on the market – including steaks, chicken potpies and frozen pepperoni pizzas – carries a government seal indicating the food is “safe, wholesome and correctly labeled.”
Wi-Fi making kids, teachers sick?
A growing number of Canadian students and teachers are convinced wireless Internet at school is making them sick and they’re wondering why Health Canada has remained silent about the potential risks linked to Wi-Fi.
Canada’s health agency issued new advice on mobile phones Tuesday, advising parents to encourage kids under 18 to cap their cellphone use.
But Health Canada has not issued information about the possible risks associated with other wireless devices, including wireless Internet. It maintains Wi-Fi is “safe.”
In May, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer arm classified all radiation emitted by wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic. (Toronto Sun)
No need to panic over cellphone use by kids, expert says
A reasonably balanced, well-rounded diet and at least an attempt at moderate fitness through some exercise will give you a fair shot at health and longevity people but of magic potions there are none.
Radical thinking on antioxidants
Researchers say the compounds may not be that effective and could do more harm than good
Antioxidant-rich products promise an easy way to stave off disease. Simply swallow two softgels daily or knock back a glass of goji-pomegranate juice and the “supercritical” compounds will neutralize those nasty free radicals that threaten your health.
Fluoride safety debate bubbles up once again
Consumers hearing that some U.S. communities will no longer add fluoride to their drinking water, such as Florida’s Pinellas County, may wonder whether this cavity fighter is safe.
The short answer: Most health professionals say yes, as long as people don’t ingest too much of it.
Studies in the 1930s found tooth decay was less severe in areas with more fluoride in drinking water, prompting U.S. communities to add it to their water.
Yet the Obama administration is moving to lower its recommended amount in drinking water as newer research shows high levels can cause tooth and bone damage. (USA TODAY)
Health Canada issues new cellphone safety advice
OTTAWA – Parents should encourage kids under 18 to cap their cellphone use, according to new advice from Health Canada.
The national health agency issued a precautionary safety update Tuesday – a response to a recent World Health Organization study on the radiation emitted by wireless devices. QMI Agency has also done a series of stories in recent months on the safety of wireless devices.
Health Canada says people can reduce their exposure to radiation from cellphones by limiting the length of phone calls, texting and using hands-free devices. (Toronto Sun)
Wireless group opposes health disclosure ordinance
A different kind of vibrator
This week’s HND piece examines the physical therapy and training method called “Whole Body Vibration.” I take you through the history, which includes Swedish fitness pioneer Dr. Gustav Zander, and full-on health nut Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, brother of the corn flakes magnate.
Yeah, I’d call someone a “nut,” who thought sex was bad for you, and bragged that he and his wife had not partaken in 40 years.
Proponents of WBV, as it is usually abbreviated, make some extravagant claims, but so far the clinical data does not quite match up with them.
Read the complete article. (Shaw’s Eco-Logic)
Organic food no guarantee against foodborne illness
Eating organic may limit your exposure to pesticides. It may make you feel environmentally conscious. It can help support local farmers.
But scientists warn it won’t necessarily protect you against foodborne illnesses. Organics, like conventionally farmed foods, can harbor dangerous pathogens including E. coli and salmonella, News21 reports.
A 2006 study in the Journal of Food Science did not find a significant difference in the prevalence of E. coli between organic and conventional produce. And a 2009 Kansas State University study did not find a difference in the prevalence of E. coli between organically and conventionally raised cattle. (iwatch news)
The rotten truth: Why ‘fruit sugar’ is one of the most damaging ingredients in our food
Sweet, cheap and natural — fructose sounds like the ideal ‘healthy’ sweetener.
However, the sugar, which is found naturally in fruit but is now added to many processed foods, may hide a range of deadly secrets.
Scientists are discovering that fructose appears to be linked to serious modern epidemics such as cancers, heart disease, hypertension, kidney damage and even dementia. (Daily Mail)
U.K. expert says limits on radiation ‘unreasonable’
The government should relax restrictions on the amount of allowable radiation in food and also rethink its evacuation criteria for Fukushima Prefecture, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, a British physics professor said Monday.
“The real problem is fear,” Oxford University professor emeritus Wade Allison said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.
Citing the doses of radiation received in medical procedures, such as CT and PET scans, Allison said Japan’s standard — which bans the sale of food containing more than 500 becquerels per kilogram of radiation and requires the evacuation of areas receiving 20 millisieverts a year — is far too conservative.
While setting standards is difficult for the government, which must balance radiation risks against the hardships of evacuation, Allison argues its conservatism does more harm than good.
Ending raw milk risk
Louis Pasteur was right — and so is an Ontario court ruling against the distribution and sale of potentially dangerous raw milk. Self-described advocates of “food freedom” may lament the finding against Grey County dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, and he vows to appeal. But public safety must come first.
The ruling by Justice Peter Tetley reverses an earlier, ill-judged decision that had allowed Schmidt to continue his raw milk operation on grounds that the farmer’s “cow share” cooperative did not violate health and safety regulations. While the sale of unpasteurized milk is banned in Ontario, farmers are allowed to drink their own product. Taking advantage of that, Schmidt had people buy a share of his cows and obtain raw milk as a result of their investment. Tetley didn’t accept that marketing dodge, and rightly so.
Almost 150 years ago Pasteur showed that heating milk to at least 63 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes kills harmful pathogens, including listeria, salmonella and E. coli. The procedure was so effective at saving lives it has become a standard public health practice. Indeed, Toronto was a leader in this area, passing a bylaw in 1915 requiring pasteurization of milk sold in the city (the Star played an important role in that campaign). Unfortunately, akin to the backlash against immunization, some people insist they’re better off without this protection. (The Star)
Malaria Declines Despite Local Warming
“Spreading tropical disease” is high on the list of bad things that are going to happen as the world warms—if you believe the doomsayers. And topping their list of spreading tropical diseases is malaria.
But, as we have on many past occasions pointed out, malaria is neither “tropical” nor is it “spreading.”
In fact, back in the late 19th century, malaria was thought to be endemic in most regions east of the Rocky Mountains—brought to the U.S. in the 16th and 17th century by European colonists and African slaves and spreading across the country with the migration of those populations (Zucker, 1996). (WCR)
Stories from the health care trenches
Perhaps this will become a frequent category. This time around, I mix in funny with serious, and wouldn’t you know it, statins—specifically Lipitor—are at the center of one of the anecdotes.
I think you’ll like that particular story, since it’s about a guy who somehow qualifies to get free Lipitor, but can afford private health insurance at the same time. Could the broadcast media have blown the details here?
Food for thought. Read the complete article. (Shaw’s Eco-Logic)
CDC Finds Moderate Drinking Leads To Longer Life; Buries Finding
Sometimes, it seems as if the nation’s public health mandarins are the only responsible adults in a country swarming with perpetual teenagers; and, as with teenagers or children, sometimes the adults can’t risk telling the whole truth.
Thus did Thomas Frieden, the director general of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ever so subtly spin the results of a revealing analysis of the impact of four “low risk” lifestyle behaviors on health last month:
“If you want to lead a longer life and feel better, you should adopt healthy behaviors – not smoking, getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, and avoiding excessive alcohol use.”
So did that mean that moderate drinking actually improved your likelihood of living longer? Yes it did, even though Frieden couldn’t quite bring himself to say so. (Forbes)
Breast Cancer Fund Study: Science Or Class Warfare?
As I’ve noted here on Forbes, the mainstream media has a pretty amazing knack for ignoring key research when there’s a controversy. So, this summer, we’ve seen a whole series of important studies on the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) come and go with next to no coverage, even though the subject has, up until now, generated hundreds of news stories.
Oh, wait, do you think it might be because the studies found that there was no risk? Hmmh… let me think about that for a moment.