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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/30/14 Health News: underground trade in a West African delicacy ♦ 45 infants added to TB exposure list ♦ Poison: Anglers Advised Not To Eat Trout In 1080 Areas

Underground trade in a West African delicacy
The global youth media company Vice has launched a new documentary series about how politics and policy affect what we eat. “The Politics of Food” is available through Vice’s online food channel, Munchies, and the first 20-minute episode investigates the underground trade in a West African delicacy called “smokies” that has been banned in the... Continue Reading
45 infants added to TB exposure list
Health officials have added 45 infants to the list of more than 700 who were exposed to tuberculosis at a hospital in El Paso, Texas. Earlier this week, the city's Department of Public Health announced that 706 infants and 43 health care workers had been exposed to tuberculosis, commonly called TB, at Providence Memorial Hospital. Continue Reading
Poison: Anglers Advised Not To Eat Trout In 1080 Areas

Anglers Advised Not To Eat Trout In 1080 Areas With the fishing season opening in just a few days (1 October 2014), anglers are being warned by the Department of Conservation(DOC) not to eat trout from pristine backcountry waters and their downstream catchments, where the department is conducting 1080 poisoning operations. In response to publicly expressed concerns by the New … Continue Reading

Monday, September 29, 2014

How Genes Affect Facial Development

Experiments in zebrafish shed light on how the structure of the face forms. Problems with equivalent genes in people can cause facial defects and other developmental issues.
DiGeorge syndrome (also called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, among other names) affects an estimated 1 in 4,000 people. Children with DiGeorge syndrome often have facial defects that include an undeveloped chin, heavy eyelids, and ears that are rotated back. Other common signs and symptoms include heart defects and recurrent infections caused by problems with the immune system.
Zebrafish studies can yield insight into human development.
Structures within the head and neck develop from embryonic features called pharyngeal pouches. These emerge from the endoderm, the inner layer of the embryo. DiGeorge defects are thought to be at least partly due to malformation of these pouches. However, the details of these developmental steps remain poorly understood.
To understand how genes cause complex developmental problems, researchers often use model systems, such as fish, worms, and mice. DiGeorge syndrome has been associated with deletion of a region of chromosome 22, which contains the TBX1 gene. Zebrafish with Tbx1 mutations have severe defects in pouch formation and facial skeletal development. Similarly, Tbx1 mutant mice lack pouches and have defects that mimic those of people with DiGeorge syndrome.
Drs. Chong Pyo Choe and J. Gage Crump at the University of Southern California used zebrafish to investigate how Tbx1 might control craniofacial formation. Their study was supported in part by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Results were published in the September 2014 issue of Development.
In previous work, the team found that the genes fgf8a and wnt11r are expressed in the mesoderm, the middle layer of the embryo, when pouches begin to form. Both genes are required for pouch development. In this study, the researchers showed that Tbx1 is required for the expression of both genes in the developing mesoderm. Restoring fgf8a and wnt11r expression in the mesoderm bypasses mutant tbx and rescues its effects on pouch development.
Using advanced time-lapse imaging techniques to track individual cells, the scientists showed that pouch-forming epithelial cells from the endoderm migrate toward areas expressing fgf8a in adjacent mesoderm. Wnt11r enables these cells to respond to Fgf8a and begin the process of forming pouches.
This research showed that Tbx1, acting through fgf8a and wnt11r, functions in the facial mesoderm to coordinate multiple steps in pouch formation. “Whereas it has been recognized that mutations in TBX1 underlie DiGeorge syndrome in patients, our study reveals how this master control gene works to organize the complex cellular rearrangements that build the face,” Crump says.
Defects in pouch development underlie several human birth defects. Continuing studies in model systems such as zebrafish will help us understand the signaling pathways involved and yield critical insights into the origins of many congenital disorders.

Beef Recalled Due to E. coli

Caviness Beef Packers, a Hereford, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 23,100 pounds of Beef Trimmings products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The Beef Trimmings products were produced on August 14, 2014 and August 20, 2014. The following products are subject to recall:
  • Combo bins containing “Beef Trimmings, BNLS, 90 L”
  • Combo bins containing “Beef Trimmings, BNLS, 84 L”
The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 675” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These products were sent to establishments for further processing and will likely not bear the establishment number "EST. 675" on products available for direct consumer purchase. These products were shipped to fast food restaurants and retail distribution locations in Texas.
The problem was discovered during a food safety assessment. The products subject to recall are lots that tested negative, however were produced consecutive to the positive lots and were subsequently processed into raw ground products and distributed to retailers.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers' freezers.
FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 145° F or 160° F for ground meat. The only way to confirm that beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature,
Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Trevor Caviness, President, at (806) 372-5781.

Scientists destroy specific DNA sequences in harmful bacteria

Scientists designed a way to target and destroy specific DNA sequences in microbes, thus removing harmful bacterial genes.The approach might be used to develop therapies against pathogenic bacteria, including those resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Over time, many bacteria have adapted to the drugs designed to kill them, making antibiotics less effective. Diseases such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and a variety of healthcare-associated infections are now difficult to treat when they’re caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria. New approaches are needed to address this growing problem.
Bacteriophages (pictured) can be used to deliver the CRISPR-Cas system into bacterial cells. Image by David Gregory and Debbie Marshall, Wellcome Images. All rights reserved by Wellcome Images.
Antibiotics work by disrupting bacteria’s ability to grow and replicate. These drugs tend to be broad spectrum, affecting both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Dr. Timothy K. Lu at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with graduate students Robert Citorik and Mark Mimee, set out to develop a way to specifically target harmful bacteria.
Bacteria have evolved systems to protect themselves against invaders. One of these, the CRISPR-Cas immune system, features clusters of short, repeated DNA sequences separated by other short stretches called spacers. These spacer sequences are created from the genetic material of bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria) and plasmids (pieces of DNA exchanged between bacteria) that the cell or an ancestor encountered. The spacers provide immunity to future exposure by directing enzymes called nucleases—encoded by cas (CRISPR-associated) genes—to destroy those specific genetic sequences.
The researchers reasoned that they could modify the spacers to target specific genetic sequences associated with bacterial virulence or antibiotic resistance. The work was funded in part by an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Results appeared online on September 21, 2014, in Nature Biotechnology.
The team used a CRISPR-Cas system to successfully target antibiotic resistance genes in E. coli. Components of the system could be delivered either by bacteriophages or by other bacteria via conjugation (a process by which bacteria exchange genetic material). Both effectively spread throughE. coli populations. The system could target genes on bacterial chromosomes or plasmids.
The team also tested whether they could target a known virulence factor that allows the pathogen E. coli O157:H7 to colonize intestines. Using bacteriophage to deliver a CRISPR-Cas system against the gene, they saw a 20-fold reduction in viable E. coli cells. The team tested this system in greater wax moth larvae, an infection model often used to predict virulence in mammals. The system significantly improved survival in larvae infected with E. coli O157:H7.
The researchers were able to target multiple resistance genes at once by including 2 spacers with DNA from 2 different antibiotic resistance genes. In addition, the system could discriminate between targets that differed by only a single nucleotide. Finally, the team showed that the system could be used to selectively kill a specific E. coli strain in a population based on its genetic content while leaving others untouched.
“This is a pretty crucial moment when there are fewer and fewer new antibiotics available, but more and more antibiotic resistance evolving,” Lu says. “We've been interested in finding new ways to combat antibiotic resistance.” The researchers are now working to further improve delivery of the CRISPR-Cas system components.
—by Harrison Wein, Ph.D.

U.S. Marshals seize botanical substance kratom

U.S. Marshals at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today seized more than 25,000 pounds of raw kratom material worth more than $5 million from Rosefield Management, Inc. in Van Nuys, California.
Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as kratom, is a botanical substance that grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Kratom is promoted on numerous websites in the United States for its psychoactive and opioid-like analgesic effects and for use in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction, but it is not approved in the United States for any medical use.
The kratom product, imported by Rosefield Management from C.V. Bali Herbal of Indonesia, contains alkaloids that have pharmacological effects similar to morphine and other opiates.  Consumption of kratom can lead to a number of health problems including respiratory depression, nervousness, agitation, aggression, sleeplessness, hallucinations, delusions, loss of libido, tremors, skin hyperpigmentation, nausea, vomiting, constipation and severe withdrawal signs and symptoms.
“We have identified kratom as a botanical substance that poses a risk to public health and has the potential for abuse,” said Melinda Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “This action was taken to safeguard the public from this dangerous product, and FDA will continue to take aggressive enforcement actions against products that are promoted for uses that are unapproved.”
In February, the FDA issued an import alert that allows the agency to detain imported kratom without physical examination.
More than 500 cartons of kratom were seized from Rosefield’s Van Nuys facility. Rosefield distributed kratom after receiving instruction to do so from Wholesale Shamanic Herbs. Wholesale Shamanic Herbs promoted kratom on its website with claims that the product is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.
The FDA filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging that kratom is an unapproved new drug and a misbranded drug under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.


Drugged food is yet another safety concern to watch out for in China. A restaurant owner in Shaanxi Province has admitted to secretly infusing his noodles with poppy shells (from which opium is made) in order to keep diners coming back. The plan was reportedly working until he got caught. Police began their investigation after... Continue Reading
As of Sept. 23, 344 people in 42 states and Puerto Rico have been sickened by one of three outbreak strains of Salmonella linked to contact with live poultry, according to the latest update released Thursday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No deaths have been reported, although 32 percent of those... Continue Reading

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings to one dairy and a seafood processor in its latest round of posted warning letters. Superior Cattle Feeders of Calipatria, CA, was cited for illegal drug residues in a steer sold for slaughter. Kidney tissue samples from the animal showed the presence of desfuroylceftiofur at 86.48 parts per... Continue Reading

Patient with exposure to Ebola has arrived safely at NIH Clinical Center in America

A patient with exposure to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been transferred from an overseas location and admitted to the NIH Clinical Center for observation and to enroll in a clinical protocol. The patient arrived at the NIH Clinical Center on Sunday, September 28, at approximately 4 p.m. ET.
The patient is an American physician who was volunteering services in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone.
Out of an abundance of caution, the patient has been admitted to the NIH Clinical Center’s special clinical studies unit that is specifically designed to provide high-level isolation capabilities and is staffed by infectious diseases and critical care specialists. The unit staff is trained in strict infection control practices optimized to prevent spread of potentially transmissible agents such as Ebola.
No additional details about the patient are available at this time.
NIH is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our patients, NIH staff, and the public. This situation presents minimal risk to any of them.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New Zealand: Quorn Meat free Soy free 4 Classic Burgers Recalled

New Zealand: Quorn Meat free Soy free 4 Classic Burgers Recalled
Quorn brand Meat free Soy free 4 Classic Burgers – 4 pack / 240g
Best Before: 31 DEC 2014
This product is sold frozen in a 240g cardboard box
This product has been sold in supermarkets throughout New Zealand.  
This product is a product of the UK and is also sold in Australia. Simplot Australia is recalling this product in Australia.
Simplot NZ is initiating a recall of a single batch of Quorn 4 Classic Meat free Soy free Burgers 240g after discovering some product may contain hard plastic pieces.
Consumers are advised to check the batch information on the product packaging. Affected product has the batch information listed above and should not be consumed.
Food products containing foreign matter may cause injury. If you have consumed any of this product and have any concerns about your health, please contact your doctor or seek medical advice.
Customers should return the product to their retailer for a full refund or phone 0800 448 613 with any queries.
This recall does not affect any other Quorn brand product.
image of recalled product

Bravo Chicken And Turkey Pet Food Recalled Due to Salmonella

Bravo of Manchester, CT is recalling select lots of Bravo Turkey and Chicken pet foods for dogs and cats because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
The recalled product was distributed nationwide beginning on November 14, 2013 to distributors, retail stores, internet retailers and directly to consumers. The product can be identified by the batch ID code (best used by date) printed on the side of the plastic tube.
1) These products are being recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
Product Number: 31-102
Size: 2 lb. (32 OZ) plastic tubes
Best used by date: 11-05-15
UPC: 829546311025
Keep Frozen
Bravo! Blends All Natural Chicken Blend diet for dogs & cats
Product Number: 21-102
Size: 2 lb. (32 OZ) plastic tubes
Best used by date: 08-11-16
UPC: 829546211028
Keep Frozen

2) These products are being recalled out of an abundance of caution because they were manufactured in the same manufacturing facility or on the same day as products that tested positive.
Premium Turkey Formula BRAVO Balance RAW DIET
Product Number: 31-405
Size: 5 lb. (80 OZ) 2.3KG plastic tubes
Best used by date: 11-05-15
UPC: 829546314057
Keep Frozen
Bravo! Blends All Natural Chicken Blend diet for dogs & cats
Product Number: 21-105
Size: 5 lb. (80 OZ) 2.3KG plastic tubes
Best used by date: 08-11-16
UPC: 829546211059
Keep Frozen
The recall was initiated after routine testing by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of Salmonella in two lots of product. This batch tested negative by a third party independent laboratory prior to release for distribution to consumers.
No additional products affected by this recall. The company has received no reports of illness in either people or animals associated with these products to date.
In addition to the voluntary recall of the above products, Bravo has chosen to voluntarily withdraw the following poultry products from the marketplace to provide its customers with the certainty of safety. Those products include all sizes (2 lb., 5 lb. and 10 lb.) of Bravo Chicken Blend(s), Bravo Turkey Blend(s), Bravo Balance Chicken Balance and Bravo Balance Premium Turkey Formula frozen raw diet products with best used by dates between June 20, 2016 and September 18, 2016. This is being done out of an abundance of caution despite no evidence of any manufacturing defect or distribution problem. None of these products are known to have tested positive for the presence of pathogens. This market withdrawal has NOT been requested by the FDA, but is being done voluntarily by Bravo.
Labels for recalled dog and cat food
Labels for dog and cat food under market withdrawal

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Beef Jerky recalled

Delicious Beef Jerky, LLC, an Albuquerque, N.M. establishment, is recalling 8 pounds of beef jerky products because they were marked and shipped without the benefit of inspection when they were produced under a retail exemption, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The products subject to recall are: [View Labels (PDF Only)]
  • 2.5 once and 5 ounce plastic bags of DELICIOUS BEEF JERKY Lemon Pepper Seasoned Beef Jerky with a use-by date of 0911155
The products, which contain the establishment number “EST. 34408” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection, were sold in small retail stores in the Albuquerque,   N.M. area.  All 2.5 once and 5 ounce plastic bags with a use-by date of 9-11-15 are being recalled.
FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions or illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

9/27/14 Health News: Scientists question safety of aspartame ♦ Casu Marzu and Nordic Food ♦ How Safe Are Safe Ingredients In Food?

Scientists once again question the safety of aspartame
Artificial sweeteners found in diet soda and yoghurt, which are consumed by millions daily, can raise the blood sugar level instead of reducing it, according to a new study published by the scientific journal Nature. The study squarely contradicts a 2013 opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded that the sweeteners posed no risk for consumers. Continue Reading
Casu Marzu and Nordic Food
You may be aware of the existence of casu marzu, a sheep milk cheese from the island of Sardinia, in the middle of the Mediterranean. Unlike other cheeses from Italy, casu marzu has the peculiarity of being inhabited by live, tiny maggots, which give it a very specific texture and flavor profile. Its name, after all, does mean "rotten cheese" in Sardinian dialect. It is …Continue Reading
How Safe Are Safe Ingredients In Food?

A 1997 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule allowed food manufacturers to use ingredients "generally regarded as safe," or GRAS, like vinegar and lots of other things, without needing approval all over again. Food advocates say the current GRAS process allows substances into the food supply that might pose a health risk. How can safe products be risky? The logic used … Continue Reading

Friday, September 26, 2014

Peppo’s Foods Hommous Recalled due to Listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume and retailers, restaurants and institutions not to sell or use the product described below due to Listeria monocytogenes.
Brand Name
Common Name
Codes(s) on Product
Peppo's Foods
1 kg
JL201404-8, JL201404-9, AU201412-13, AU201422-11, AU201422-12, AU201422-13,AU201422-14, AU201422-15, AU201420-13, AU201425-1, SE201404-5, SE201404-6,JL201418-8, JL201418-11, SE201408-7, SE201413-6, SE201413-7
What You Should Do
Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Box HoumousHommous

Canada:Tomalley Spread Recalled Due to Botulism

Madeleine brand Tomalley SpreadFruits de Mer Madeleine Inc. is recalling Madeleine brand Tomalley Spread from the marketplace because it may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.
Recalled products
Brand Name
Common Name
Tomalley Spread
80 g
6 87090 30020 5
What you should do
Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.
Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, people may die.