Watering Hole: Tuesday January 7, 2014- Food Fights

Before World War II, virtually all food was grown organically. Seeds were produced that balanced health and nutrition with innate pest resistance. Lacking in the eyes of some beholders were beauty (the fruit had ‘spots’) and bounty (yields could be increased if we only added fertilizer). So over the course of 70 plus years, industrial farming became the norm. We are at the point where seeds can be genetically modified from foreign materials (e.g. a tomato spliced with a fish gene). Of course, the organic farming movement (and the eating movement) has decided to fight back. Our marketing reality is that the industrial giants are bold. Food labeling has become a cynical gimmick in which the giants propose things to the FDA like GMO foods can and should be labeled as ‘natural’. Carrying on the great fight is the Organic Consumers Association. They need foot soldiers to help them resist the giants, particularly in arenas like FDA rulings and legislative initiatives. Here is a link to one of their articles titled GMO and ‘Natural’ Food Fight: Treacherous Terrain : http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_28998.cfm 

If you are not getting their newsletter already, go to the top of their page and subscribe. Here is a sample: http://www.organicconsumers.org/bytes/ob407.html

Have at it zoosters.

FDA Issued A Recall Of All “Hydroxycut” Weight Loss Products

The FDA issued a recall and is warning consumers to stop all use of any Hydroxycut products, over possible liver damage.

The FDA issued the recall of Hydroxycut products after receiving 23 reports of serious health problems ranging from jaundice and elevated liver enzymes (which is an indicator of potential liver injury), to liver damage requiring liver transplant. One death due to liver failure has been reported to the FDA.

Other, but rarer, problems leading to the Hydroxycut recall include:

seizures; cardiovascular disorders; and rhabdomyolysis, which is the rapid breakdown of muscle tissue due to injury. Rhabdomyolysis can lead to acute kidney failure.

FDA Still Promoting Drugs In Our Milk…

Milk does not do the body good anymore, thanks to the FDA.  Your milk on drugs video:

In the diary heartland, in an effort to produce more milk,  it is being genetically engineered with bovine growth hormone.  Ask yourself, is it safe? What impact does it have on the cows that are injected?  Lastly, is it really necessary?  All very valid questions we need to ask before we pour some over our cereal in the morning for ourselves or our children.

Farmers inject their cattle with BST and yield 10% more milk from the same herd. A single 500mg dose is given every 14 days, beginning the ninth week of lactation. It is injected into the tailhead or behind the shoulder area of the cow. The leading company in BST production is Monsanto.

The Monsanto scientists took a cow’s growth hormone and altered it with E. coli bacteria.

Monsanto marketed it under the brand name Posilac. It is also called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST). But cows often get sick and die young.

Approved in the United States in 1993, by 2002 rbGH was used on 22% of the nation’s dairy cows. It is banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

Bovine  Growth Hormone (rBGH) has been reliably linked to health problems that cause extreme suffering to cows, including mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder.

In scientific and public health terms, data continues to pile up that significantly increased levels of the human growth hormone factor IGF-1 in genetically engineered milk and dairy products constitute a serious human health risk for increased breast and colon cancer. In addition, scientific studies have recently been brought to the attention of the World Health Organization that injecting mammals with genetically engineered growth hormones very likely increases their susceptibility to deadly, incurable brain-wasting diseases such as BSE, commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, or its human variant, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease.

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FDA Has Proven, Once Again, To Be A Failure..

The Public Citizen has sent the FDA four letters this week about regulation and approval of medical devices.  The first letter is about the FDA’s approval of a Anti-Scarring Device for children.  The SyntheMed’s REPEL-CV device is designed to reduce post-surgical scarring in children following open-heart surgery.  Public Citizen found some major problems.

In the trial, there were also signs of possible dangers associated with REPEL-CV, including trends toward higher risks of death and chest infection. These differences were not statistically significant, but the consistent direction of the adverse effects observed, even if non-significant, is concerning. Because the trial was so small, we can only be assured that there was not more than a three-fold increase in mortality and not more than a 10-fold increase in chest infections for patients implanted with the device. This is hardly reassuring.

The approval of REPEL-CV bears an eerie resemblance to another device, Intergel, an anti-scarring device intended for pelvic surgeries that also demonstrated reduced scarring without clinically validated outcomes. That trial was also underpowered for safety and showed a consistent but non-statistically significant increase in infection rates. Less than two years after Intergel was approved, the company removed the product from the market due to reports of post-operative pain, foreign body reactions and tissue scarring requiring repeat surgery, including three deaths among women who received it. This history should have given the FDA pause before once again approving a similar device with a questionable safety record.

The second letter dated March 10th, concerned the FDA’s negligence in delaying their response to problems with a pediatric breathing device.  The FDA on Monday, finally announced a Class I recall of the Shiley 3.0 PED tracheostomy tube.

The FDA’s lack of response is obscene.

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Supreme Court hears amputee’s case involving drug labels and possible limits on lawsuits

NPR

The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case involving drug labels and the Food and Drug Administration. The result could limit liability claims against drugmakers, if one of their medicines causes harm. The case pits Wyeth Pharmaceuticals against a musician who lost part of an arm after she was improperly injected with an anti-nausea drug made by the company.

A Vermont musician who lost her arm because of a botched drug injection is squaring off against a drug maker and the Bush administration in one of the most closely watched business cases of the Supreme Court’s term.

At issue is whether the federal government can limit lawsuits by consumers like Diana Levine who have been harmed by prescription medications.

The justices are hearing arguments in Levine’s case Monday, shortly after the court announces whether it will accept other cases for argument sometime next year.

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FDA Chairman Took $5 Million Donation – “No Conflict of Interest”

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First, we have Martin Philbert, who is the chairman, on the committee that is expected to release their opinion this month on the safety of Bisphenol A. This is the chemical used in items such as baby bottles, reusable food containers and plastic wraps.  Next, Martin Philbert is also the founder and co-director of University of Michigan Risk Science Center. Now here’s where the conflict begins.

A medical supply manufacturer, by the name of Charles Gelman, decides out of the goodness of his heart to give $5 million dollars to the research center. His July donation is 50 times the annual budget of the research center. Mind you this is the same manufacturer that is saying that Bisphenol A is safe. Even though scientist who have published their research in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” report that it is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The National Toxicology Program concluded that there is “some concern” that fetuses, babies and children were in danger because bisphenol A, or BPA. Some scientists suspect that exposure early in life disrupts hormones and alters genes, programming a fetus or child for breast or prostate cancer, premature female puberty, attention deficit disorders and other reproductive or neurological disorders.

Charles Gelman thinks that the worries about health risks posed by the chemical are exaggerated by “mothers’ groups and others who don’t know the science.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel uncovered that, Philbert did not disclose the donation to the FDA, and that agency officials learned of it when reporters, Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger asked about it. This is the answer the FDA gave to Susanne and Meg.

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FDA Warning: U.S. Instant Coffee From China Melamine Tainted

George W. Bush who hates regulations has fought against it with the food and drugs since he has been in office. So you know it has to be really adverse to your health when the FDA finally is issuing a warning. That means check your coffee and get rid of it fast. I have the list of coffees that are going to be pulled from the grocery stores across the US.

U.S. regulators warned the public on Friday not to consume seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products that were made in China because of concerns they may be contaminated with melamine. The Food and Drug Administration said the products were recalled by King Car Food Industrial Co Ltd “due to possible contamination with melamine.”

Infant formula tainted with the industrial chemical has resulted in hospitalization for thousands of Chinese babies with painful kidney stones. Four have died.

Here are the coffee and tea products that are being recalled:

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Saturday Morning Line Up

Breaking News: Legendary actor Paul Newman dies at age 83

My thoughts go out to his wife, family and friends.  He will truly be missed.  He made us laugh and cry with all of his wonderful movies.

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Color of Money,” has died. He was 83. Link to story.

Sen. Kennedy Released from Hospital

Some very good news this morning.

Ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, a liberal giant and patriarch of America’s most storied political family, was examined and released from a Massachusetts hospital on Friday after suffering a mild seizure, officials said. Link.

Who Won The Debate? Reviews Go To Obama

Check out link at HP they have some interesting polls

Several positive reviews for Obama. A CBS News instant poll finds:
40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw. Link

GOP concerned about Palin

More bad news for Palin..

A growing number of Republicans are expressing concern about Sarah Palin’s uneven – and sometimes downright awkward – performances in her limited media appearances. Link to Politico

Labels Will Say If Your Beef Was Born In the USA

This is for all of us who want to buy products from the USA.

Attention, grocery shoppers: You’ll soon know the nationality of your steak, potatoes and kumquats. A federal law that takes effect Sept. 30. Link

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FDA Cracks Down-Products That Cause Blindness & Rapid Heart Rate

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is taking steps to stop companies from marketing unapproved ophthalmic balanced salt solutions (BSS) and unapproved topical drug products containing papain, must stop manufacturing and marketing these products or risk enforcement action. FDA announced it has received reports of unapproved products that have been linked to serious adverse reactions.

The eye wash, known as a balanced salt solution, is used to keep the eyes moist during surgery. Two companies, Alcon Laboratories and Akorn, Inc. have versions that are officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not affected, the FDA said in a public notice.

But three other firms are selling similar types of eye wash without federal validation of their safety and effectiveness, said Deborah Autor, who directs the FDA’s unapproved drugs initiative. They are B. Braun, Baxter, and Hospira, she said.

There are more than 300 reports about ophthalmic balanced salt solution products. Some of these events resulted in patients permanently losing the ability to see objects clearly.

FDA said one manufacturer’s unapproved ophthalmic balanced salt solution product a couple years ago was contaminated with endotoxins, resulting in several hundred reports of adverse events, some of which were serious. In some patients, exposure to the contaminated product led to a noninfectious inflammation of the anterior segment of the eye.

“These unapproved products have put consumer’s health in jeopardy, from reports of permanent vision loss with unapproved balanced salt solutions to a serious drop in blood pressure and increased heart rate from the topical papain products,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Consumers need to be assured that all drug products are manufactured according to the high quality standards required for FDA approval and that they are safe and effective.”

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Saturday Morning News Line Up

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Why McCain is Going so Negative, so Often

It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely perch for John McCain to be shamed for his increasingly hard-edged and truth-stretching campaign than the middle seat on “The View.” Link

FDA hires 1,300 new doctors and scientists

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it has hired more than 1,300 professional staffers in a move that officials hope will help the beleaguered agency better protect the public health amid rapid. Link

Health Net to reinstate 926 dropped policyholders in California

 Under an agreement with the state, the company also will pay $3.6 million in penalties and as much as $14 million in medical reimbursements it had earlier denied. It does not admit wrongdoing. Link

Devastating Ike roars ashore in Galveston, Texas

Though 1 million people fled coastal communities near where the storm made landfall, authorities in four counties alone said roughly 140,000 ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Other counties were unable to provide numbers but officials were concerned many had stayed behind. Link

Hallucinogenic chocolates doom Berlin sweet shop

Police closed down a Berlin sweet shop after discovering the owner was selling chocolates and lollipops laced with hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana. Link

 Tina Fey ‘likely’ to play VP candidate Sarah Palin on ‘Saturday Night Live

Tina Fey was “likely” to play Gov. Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live,” said a person close to NBC’s sketch comedy show. Link

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Saturday Morning News

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Probes Into Sales of Land

Two government lots were sold for $1 each to a housing corporation that lacked the tax-exempt status it claimed.  More on the story Link.

Four Years Later, Still Sorting Fallout of Republican Convention

The 2004 Republican National Convention lingers on in the expensive and bitter afterlife of civil rights lawsuits.  More on the story Link.

FDA Plans To Post List Of Drugs Under Investigation

The Food and Drug Administration will begin posting every three months a list of drugs whose safety is under investigation because of complaints brought to the agency’s attention by drug companies, physicians and patients.  Just when you thought your prescription drugs were safe.

Palin Not Making Sunday Show Rounds

Only one member of the presidential slate will not appear on the Sunday public affairs shows this weekend and it’s the newest addition – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Democratic nominee Barack Obama will appear on ABC’s “This Week” while his running mate Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) will stop by NBC’s “Meet the Press.”   More on the story Link.

Hanna rakes Carolins with rain, wind, some floods

RALEIGH, N.C. – Tropical Storm Hanna blew hard and dumped rain in eastern North Carolina and Virginia Saturday, but caused little damage beyond isolated flooding and power outages as it quickly headed north toward New England.   More on this story Link.

Students at Tempe school recognized for mentoring effort

During the past few years, there have been waiting lists to get into the school’s Best Buddies chapter, part of an international mentoring program that pairs a typical teen peer and a student “buddy” with an intellectual disability.  What a great story Link.
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The FDA approved irradiation as a new “food additive”

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Kirk James Murphy, M.D. at firedoglake.com had this to say on the subject:

“Yesterday what remains of the FDA under the Bush regime opened the lead doors to allow Big Ag and Big Industrial Food to start irradiating the life out of the iceberg lettuce and spinach you eat. The FDA claims that nuking these leafy greens is required to keep us safe from the E. Coli and other fecal coliforms (nerdspeak for “shit germs”) found to have contaminated the food we bring home to eat. The Bushies, their moles in the Federal agencies that once protected us, and the corporatists they all serve are — as usual — lying through their coliform encrusted teeth. Our menus — and our choices — need not be collapsed down to the binary option of “nuked food vs poop food”. “Let them eat shit” is the GOP’s de facto public safety policy, but we don’t have to swallow it.”

Although this announcement only applies to fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach, other fresh produce, such as tomatoes or peppers, are included in the Grocery Manufacturers Association petition. The FDA says it is continuing to evaluate the use of irradiation in additional foods.

Irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach will be voluntary on the part of food processors. If whole foods have been irradiated, FDA requires that the label bear the radura symbol and the phrase “treated with radiation” or “treated by irradiation.”  Yet, if irradiated ingredients are added to foods that have not been irradiated, no special labeling is required on retail packages.

The biggest problems with vegetables is caused by viruses not bacteria and irradiation is not going to kill a virus.  For example, the Salmonella outbreak we had this year with tomatoes could not have been averted had the tomatoes been irradiated.

When food is irradiated, ionized radiation reacts with water in the food, causing the release of electrons and the formation of highly reactive free radicals.  The free radicals interact with vitamins in ways that can alter and degrade their structure and/or activity.  The extent to which vitamin loss occurs can vary based on a number of factors, including the type of food, temperature of irradiation, and availability of oxygen.  Vitamin loss almost always increases with increasing doses of radiation.

The destruction of vitamins continues beyond the time of irradiation.  Therefore, when irradiated food is stored, it will experience greater vitamin loss than the food that has not been irradiated.  Cooking further accelerates vitamin destruction in irradiated food compared to non-irradiated food.

To understand how bad this is here is an example:  A kiloGray (kGy) is the unit of measuring radiation unique to the process of food irradiation.  In the United States, fruits and vegetables are irradiated with up to one kGy, which equals the radiation output of approximately 33 million chest X-rays.  Fresh meat and poultry are irradiated with up to 4.5 kGy, which equal the radiation output of approximately 150 million chest X-rays.

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Government to Bail Out Tainted Tomato Industry?

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) plans to introduce legislation to give tomato growers and shippers $100 million in compensation for their losses due to the recent salmonella outbreak.

The WSJ states that the FDA has listed its ban on the tainted vegetable, while the CDC says that there still may be more cases not yet reported which resulted from tomatoes. More than 1200 people were sickened in this latest produce disaster.

Congress has scheduled several hearings next week concerning the salmonella outbreak and why thee was such a lengthy delay in determining the cause.

The sought-after amount is based on an estimate from Florida growers and includes crops abandoned in the field, products thrown out by retailers and tomatoes forced to be sold as low as $5 a box, compared with as much as $20 in a normal market, said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a cooperative of tomato farmers. The Agriculture Department hasn’t released a firm estimate of the cost to farmers or distributors.

Call me crazy, but shouldn’t we try to figure out exactly what happened first, before we opt to shovel $100 million dollars to any industry? Especially one which may be at fault?

Consumer advocates oppose the bill. Sarah Klein, a staff attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the food-industry lobby over the years has weakened federal food-safety oversight, and consumers shouldn’t foot the bill now. “We’d like to see the industry focusing on how to prevent these outbreaks for the future to protect consumers and their bottom line,” she said.

Gee, you don’t say?

Oh, and watch those Jalepeno peppers. They’re still hot. The FDA and CDC found a single pepper tainted with the Saintpaul strain of salmonella in Texas.
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Chinese Drug Supplier Unregulated

Four deaths in the United States are linked to  a Chinese factory that  provided most of the blood thinner heparin to Baxter Laboratories here.  The company is not certified by Chinese drug regulators to make pharmaceutical products.   Because the plant is not certified it was not inspected by China’s drug agency.  The Food and Drug Administration said this week that it had not inspected the plant either before allowing it to be a provider of blood thinner to Baxter Laboratories.  This is a clear violation of the policies of the FDA. 

In addition to the four deaths another 350 patients suffered complications from these drugs. 

There is much more to this story at The New York Times.