Articles Posted in Food Safety

babewithbottle-300x293Americans keep suffering the dire consequences of corporations’ relentless pursuit of profits, their stifling of beneficial competition, and their failure to secure the production of their products. These now include desperately needed, specialized baby formula and contrast dyes used in diagnostic imaging studies for seriously ill and injured patients.

A special place in perdition needs to be reserved for those who have put infants at risk of hunger and illness by allowing the feeding crisis to explode and for boobs who are rushing in with finger-snapping, fact-light, and unworkable actions for parents to respond.

Let’s be clear that the formula mess, bad for all families across the country, hits hardest at the working poor and the poor. As the New York Times reported:

lonestartick-300x106To those who don’t consider the summer complete without devouring racks of sizzling barbecued pork ribs or slabs of  charred beef steaks, experts have an odd but true warning: Watch out for the so-called lone star tick.

Amblyomma Americanum, a parasitic species distinguished by a prominent light or white dot on the females’ abdomen, has spread across the southeastern United States and is showing up in increasing numbers in the DMV (the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia), the Washington Post reported.

The bite of the lone star tick is concerning, the newspaper reported, “because  it can produce a severe food allergy in people known as alpha-gal syndrome, which is an allergy to red meat.” [By the way, “alpha gal” is not a reference to a feminist super hero but to a common blood sugar, alpha galactose]. As the news article added:

FDA-Logo-300x167Its official title is the federal Food and Drug Administration. But taxpayers are ill-served by the $1 billion they fork over to this behemoth agency to safeguard the foods all of us must consume and to provide sound nutritional guidance in especially confusing times.

That’s a significant takeaway for readers of a new, magazine-length takedown of the FDA’s food programs by the news site Politico. It has joined ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site, in hammering the federal government — which divides food regulation also with the U.S. Department of Agriculture — over its sluggish and poor protection of the public.

These are not just deep digs into obscure bureaucracies, Politico reported:

salmonella_salmonellosis-300x228While regular folks may tolerate the occasional sickness that follows a catered company event, church potluck, or dining on take-out or sit-down meals from all manner of meal providers, all-too-common food-borne illnesses must get greater attention from public health officials because of the major but less publicized damage that tainted foods can cause.

Consider what happened family and friends who attended a funeral reception in Texas that included store-bought chicken (rotisserie and fried) and potato salad. As ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site reported, hours after the event, “dozens of the attendees were stricken by illness, overcome by nausea, cramping, vomiting and diarrhea, according to an investigation by Austin Public Health, which found that at least 61 people reported symptoms of food poisoning.”

The situation worsened and stayed bad, ProPublica found, reporting in its follow-up:

Family decorating Christmas treeWith seasonal festivities getting into their full swing, be sure to take common sense steps to ensure that the holidays stay safe and healthy as well as fun.

As the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported:

“Unsafe toys, cooking fires, decorating, holiday trees and candles lead to thousands of injuries and deaths each year. People can celebrate more safely this holiday season by making a list of safety precautions and checking it twice.”

califf-150x150Robert Califf, a cardiologist and President Biden’s “new” nominee to head the federal Food and Drug Administration, is a familiar face around the agency and Washington, D.C.

Califf served as the FDA commissioner before — winning U.S. Senate confirmation and holding the important post for the last year of the Obama presidency.

He is 70 and has long history in academic medical research and running clinical trials, including consulting for Big Pharma and giving his foes queasiness about his ability to run the nation’s top overseer of prescription medications and medical devices, as well as food quality and safety.

friesandsalt-300x200Americans of all ages adore fast food and prepared meals, but one of the lures is these tasty items are loaded with salt. Now federal regulators have proposed new guidelines that they say could save millions of lives by reducing the salt content of commercially prepared and packaged foods.

The Food and Drug Administration’s standards, directed at food that flies out of restaurants, as well as from grocery freezers and shelves, seeks to get manufacturers, restaurants, and food services to help people cut their sodium intake by 12% in the next 2.5 years.

That may seem like a slight amount, but it could have significant effects, the New York Times reported:

becerra-150x150biden-150x150With the Biden Administration battling the coronavirus pandemic and Democrats in the throes of determining what could be big spending for major changes in the U.S. health care system, even the president’s biggest supporters are baffled why he still hasn’t nominated a commissioner to head the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA, entrusted to safeguard the safety and quality of the nation’s prescription drugs, medical devices, and foodstuffs, has a huge lift in the best of times.

In the Biden administration’s 10 months, the agency — demoralized and banged up, big time, by the Trump Administration and its politicization of health matters across the board — has found itself in a relentless crossfire in areas in which the 18,000-employee organization holds sway.

cdcheatwarn-263x300Climate change — to those who indulge in counter-factual thinking and who hold anti-science beliefs — may be an abstraction and a mere theory. But weather extremes became a startling, real, and deadly health threat to tens of millions in a swath of the Pacific Northwest in this country and Canada.

Days of unrelenting, record-shattering heat have been blamed directly for at least 100 deaths, with hundreds more fatalities occurring during the historic torpor, the New York Times reported in a news article describing the toll in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

Surges in emergency departments

airliftwatertexasfreeze-300x227The climate change deniers can holler their heads off. But for all too many people from coast-to-coast, Mother Nature’s fury is tragically clear — as is the importance of not only future thinking but also emergency planning, by individuals and institutions.

This includes knowing common sense steps to safeguard one’s self and loved ones, in unusual circumstance, from misuse and abuse of ordinary products that also may have their own shortcomings, defects, or dangers.

Huge hurrahs, of course, are in order for the overworked, overstressed, and valiant doctors, nurses, and other health workers who — even while battling the over load of the coronavirus pandemic — have kept up medical services in hard hit areas of Texas and elsewhere during a brutal winter storm and its harsh freeze. The nightmarish conditions afflicted not only big hospitals but also those who provide desperately needed at-home care to the vulnerable.

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