Prevent disease? Start by removing sugar.

Cutting 20% of sugar from packaged foods and 40% from beverages could prevent 2.48 million cardiovascular disease events (such as strokes, heart attacks, cardiac arrests), 490,000 cardiovascular deaths, and 750,000 diabetes cases in the U.S. over the lifetime of the adult population, reports a study published in Circulation…

Implementing a national policy, however, will require government support to monitor companies as they work toward the targets and to publicly report on their progress. The researchers hope their model will build consensus on the need for a national-sugar reformulation policy in the US. “We hope that this study will help push the reformulation initiative forward in the next few years,” says Siyi Shangguan, MD, MPH, lead author…“Reducing the sugar content of commercially prepared foods and beverages will have a larger impact on the health of Americans than other initiatives to cut sugar, such as imposing a sugar tax, labeling added sugar content, or banning sugary drinks in schools.”

Say “Amen!”

Recall issued for Skippy reduced-fat peanut butter

The possible discovery of salmonella has prompted a limited recall of Skippy reduced-fat peanut butter spreads sold in 16 states.

Unilever issued a press release detailing a voluntary recall of Skippy’s “Reduced Fat Creamy” and “Reduced Fat Super Chunk” brands. The recall applies only to these branded items distributed in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

While there have been no known illnesses, the recall was issued for fear that some of the peanut butter now in stores had salmonella…

The recalled products are sold in 16.3-ounce plastic jars, have UPC codes of 048001006812 or 048001006782 and have best-if-used-by-dates of May 16-21, 2012, on the top, the company statement said. Those with such jars should throw them away and call Skippy at 1-800-453-3432 to get a replacement coupon, according to Unilever…

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that usually lasts four to seven days. About 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in the United States, according to the CDC.

Those who get it typically develop fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea between 12 and 72 hours after becoming infected. Most people recover on their own, without needing significant treatment. But salmonella in very young and very old people, as well as those with weakened immune systems, can lead to severe illness and even death.

Cripes. This prompts a couple of thoughts.

I ate a ton of Skippy peanut butter growing up. The only change in my adult peanut butter life is switching to organic brands from markets I know run their own checks on food quality.

Wonder if there were as many or more – or fewer – instances of salmonella and other food poisonings in the good old days. Are they just better reported nowadays? Is it only the increase in production servicing a larger population that seems to include a calculated risk of food poisoning?


Cross-contamination fears extend from parsley-cilantro recall

Holiday greetings from a salmonella culture

A Texas distributor has expanded a recall already involving thousands of cases of produce over fears of salmonella cross-contamination in its processing facility…

The “precautionary, voluntary recall” pertains to cilantro and parsley packed between November 30 and December 6, the Edinburg, Texas-based company said in a statement. The produce…processed and branded as Little Bear between those dates can be taken to retailers for a full refund.

The company is also recalling 19 other types of produce that were run on the same packing lines, because the salmonella may have spread to those products as well.

“It’s imperative to protect public health, even if that means being overzealous in expanding the scope of the products we’re calling back,” said James Bassetti, president of J&D Produce. “We will work closely with regulators, health officials and our customers in bringing back the products.”

No one has reported getting sick from eating the vegetables, according to J&D Produce…

The company’s products are sold retail as well as to wholesalers, who may then distribute them to restaurants and other establishments, according to Sharon McNerney, a public relations consultant for the company…

In addition to cilantro and parsley, the Texas company gathers, packs and distributes a variety of fruits and vegetables such as carrots, limes, eggplants, peppers, greens, onions, melons, mangoes and asparagus, according to its website.

You can find a listing of the recalled produce over here at the company’s website.

Sensible folks work at getting people to eat more veggies. It’s painful to provide another excuse for those who would copout on decent nutrition.

Renovating “This Old Bank” – Belgian finds €300,000

Dexia bank tower in Brussels

A Belgian man renovating a house in Ghent found €300,000 in cash that had been left behind unclaimed from when the building had housed a bank almost 10 years ago.

Ferhat Kaya, 33, had bought the property, a former branch of the Dexia bank, at a cost of €180,000 to house his accounting firm and before accepting the keys turned down the estate agent’s quote of €3,500 to remove an old safe.

Instead he called two close friends, the brothers Murat and Hurun Tufan to remove the metal vault. “When the vault was open it revealed bags of 20 and 50 euro bills,” said Murat Tufan. “The receipts were still there, dated December 31, 2001. We started counting, and it came to some 300,000 euros.”

After speaking to his Turkish father, Mr Kaya decided to call the police even though it would have been easy to keep the cash as it had been lost and left unwanted by the bank for almost a decade.

“My friends and I thought we would really make a statement with it: that even immigrants are people that say honesty is the best policy,” he said.

Ulrike Pommée, a spokesman for Belgium’s Dexia Bank, said that an investigation had been opened but suggested that no trace of money would ever be found.

“We will carry out the investigation and then see if there will be a decision to give him a reward for reporting the money to police straight away.”


Australian quadriplegic granted “permission” to starve himself to death – UPDATED

An Australian high court ruled Friday that a quadriplegic man has the right to refuse food and water and can be allowed to die, a rare legal finding that some see as a major victory for right-to-die campaigners.

The ruling means that the nursing facility in which Christian Rossiter has lived since November 2008 cannot be held criminally liable for allowing the patient to die, the Supreme Court of Western Australia said…

Chief Justice Wayne Martin noted…in his order, saying, “This is a case in which a person with full mental capacity and the ability to communicate his wishes has indicated that he wishes to direct those who have assumed responsibility for his care to discontinue the provision of treatment which maintains his existence…”

Australian law gives patients the right to refuse life-saving treatment, but helping someone commit suicide is a crime that can carry a life prison sentence. The Brightwater nursing facility sought the ruling to make sure it would not be held liable if it complied with Rossiter’s request to stop all nutrition and hydration, except to be given enough liquid to make it possible to take pain medication.

Rossiter attended the hearing in a wheelchair, breathing through a tracheotomy tube in his throat. He told the judge he wants to die…

“I can’t move,” Rossiter said in a televised interview this week. “I can’t even wipe the tears from my eyes. And I’d like to die. I’m imprisoned in my own body. I have no fear of death. Just pain.”

Rossiter pointed out in a recent interview with the PerthNow news outlet that he once led an active life.

“It’s a bit sad that the best that Australia can come up with,” Dr. Nitschke said, “is that we can let a person like that starve to death.”

They don’t even have a proper Death Panel in Oz – to satisfy the Australian flavor of Palin loonie.

I agree – of course – with Dr. Nitschke that it’s a shame this brave man can’t choose an easier method to shuffle off this mortal coil. Religious crackpots work very hard at taking away any shred of dignity one might associate with your own death – having to rescue your medical attendants in advance of the Christian juggernaut.

UPDATE: Christian Rossiter has died.

Voluntary livestock traceback participation isn’t working. Duh!

I thought you knew where it came from?

A disappointing one-third of cattle, hog and poultry farmers are enrolled in a livestock traceback system intended as a primary U.S. defense against mad cow and other diseases, said an Agriculture Department official.

To be effective, participation must be at least 70 percent, said USDA chief veterinarian John Clifford. He said low participation could hamper disease control and make it harder to restore sales to nations who ban U.S. meat.

“Unfortunately, a disappointing rate of producer participation — currently only 35 percent — hampers our ability to achieve animal traceability outbreak,” he told a joint hearing of House Agriculture and Homeland Security subcommittees…

The government embraced a voluntary tracking system as a response to the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003. Critics, including some members of Congress, say the program, which has cost $130 million, is not working. Many have called for a mandatory system and hinted they may withhold funding until it is put in place.

Of course, it’s not working. Virtually every “voluntary” program which tracks problems affecting profits even for a few – are rejected by the whole of any sector of our wonderful “free” marketplace. We’d still be laboring in Upton Sinclair’s JUNGLE if it wasn’t for regulation and oversight.

This is just the predictable result of more neocon claptrap premised upon avoiding responsibility.

Chip yourself! Satellites track you after you’re kidnapped in Mexico…

Wealthy Mexicans, terrified of soaring kidnapping rates, are spending thousands of dollars to implant tiny transmitters under their skin so satellites can help find them tied up in a safe house or stuffed in the trunk of a car.

Kidnapping jumped almost 40 percent between 2004 and 2007 in Mexico according to official statistics. Mexico ranks with conflict zones like Iraq and Colombia as among the worst countries for abductions.

The Xega company injects the crystal-encased chip, the size and shape of a grain of rice, into clients’ bodies with a syringe. A transmitter then sends signals via satellite to pinpoint the location of a person in distress.

The chips cost $4,000 plus an annual fee of $2,200

Xega sees kidnapping as a growth industry and is planning to expand its services next year to Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.

We’ve discussed chipping before as likely under more and more repressive governments in the U.S. and elsewhere. This offers an entirely different scenario.

I can see people getting chipped as a status symbol. In fact, there will eventually be people who just stab themselves in the arm with an icepick to make a wee scar that they can say was the result of chipping. 🙂