Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Could Listening to Media Be Harmful to Your Baby?

Media May Have Gotten Alcohol Study Wrong
Claim that pregnant women can drink safely is erroneous, researchers say

December 22, 2008

Pregnancy women shouldn't drink alcohol, health researchers say, despite what may have recently been reported on the effects of moderate drinking and a developing fetus......More

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Concerned for Your Child's Asthma? Pollution Near Schools May Be the Problem

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nation's focus has returned to the safety of our schools with the second article by USA TODAY in a series on school siting. Working closely with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), USA TODAY examined the environmental danger of a school located in the shadow of one of our nation's largest oil refineries. Wyandotte Early Education Center serves local 4 year-olds, whose developing lungs are particularly susceptible to the sulfuric acid, naphthalene, ammonia and benzene that the ExxonMobil plant belches into the surrounding air.

The refinery has already been fined by the EPA for failing to monitor and control sulfur gasses that can cause respiratory illness as part of $6.1 million dollars in penalties levied against ExxonMobil last week. Meanwhile, local doctors take note of unusually high rates of asthma and respiratory illness among students.

"Asthma is a direct result of air pollution and asthma is the number one reason for school absences," said Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of CHEJ. "Industries that are permitted to release toxics into the air must be monitored very carefully and, if in violation, brought into compliance immediately. Too often the industry gets away with violations over and over again without serious penalties. We protect our children by law with seat belts, car seats, bike helmets, and from negligent and abusive parents - toxic pollution should be no different." CHEJ recommends adopting the following model laws for states and as guidelines for the EPA http://www.childproofing.org/school_siting_model_legislation.htm

In December 2007, President Bush signed Subtitle E of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, instructing the EPA to develop the nation's first-ever school siting guidelines to give state legislatures direction in where schools may be physically located in relationship to toxic contamination sites. The EPA has been given a deadline of June, 2009. Nothing has been done since congress passed this directive. No one has even been given the responsibility for this task.

Meanwhile, communities struggle to relocate schools away from industrial plants emitting toxic levels of air pollutants. USA Today had identified over 20,000 of these schools located within a half mile of a major industrial plant.

"No one should have to file a lawsuit to ensure that their kids go to school on sites that are weren't used for the disposal of hazardous waste," says Steve Fischbach of Rhode Island Legal Services who has fought legal battles to pass rudimentary school siting guidelines in Rhode Island.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

A Marketplace Free From Government Interference

(NAPSI)-While the U.S. must fight any number of battles in order to protect its people and its shores, the nation is currently involved in one where the two sides can't even agree on the rules.

It's all part of competing in a free marketplace. On a world stage, countries develop products for export, and other countries shop around and find the best price and supply to fit their national needs. And if one producing country can find a way to lower its prices, it can gain an important advantage.

That's the way it should work. But when it comes to steel-which the U.S. imports and exports-America is presently locking horns with China. That's because the Chinese government subsidizes the nation's steel companies, creating unfair advantage in an otherwise free marketplace. By covering some of the manufacturing costs, the Chinese government enables its stainless steel producers to charge less for its products.

What does this mean for American manufacturers? Consider that the total U.S. consumption of specialty steel decreased 11.5 percent between June 2007 and June 2008, but the percentage of foreign steel-known as the import penetration-actually increased from 35.6 percent to 39.9 percent. At the same time, U.S. steel exports dropped.

The primary increase stems from the importation of stainless steel sheet/strip, which has jumped 13.4 percent despite the fact that the nation's total consumption went down.

"Stainless steel imports of sheet and strip products continue to surge, even in the midst of a 10 percent decline in U.S. consumption," said Doug Kittenbrink, chairman of the Specialty Steel Industry of North America. "Currency manipulation and other subsidies are enabling Asian competitors to unfairly target our markets. We strongly believe it is time for the U.S. Congress to address the issue of China currency manipulation."

Many Americans concerned about the country's economy-as well as their own-are calling on the new Congress to enact legislation to help level the playing field for the nation's steel manufacturers. You can reach your senators at www.senate.gov and your representatives at www.house.gov. For additional information, visit www.ssina.com.

Steel may be considered the fabric of America, but much of it is coming from overseas.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Economic Crisis Impacting Foreign Workers And Their Home Countries

The ongoing financial crisis could easily turn into a global humanitarian crisis, but not for the reasons you might think. Yes, the worldwide recession means that developed countries will buy fewer products from the developing world, build fewer factories there and even give fewer dollars’ worth of aid. But a potentially bigger threat to the well-being of developing countries is that remittances -- the cash that migrant workers send to the loved ones they leave behind -- appear to be falling, for the first time in decades.

Millions of people around the world leave their home countries to find work in foreign lands. They are an incredibly diverse group that includes cab drivers and construction workers, engineers and accountants. The one thing they have in common is they scrimp and save in order to send a few hundred dollars whenever they can to their families back home. These remittances are a lifeline for those who receive them -- research shows the vast majority of remittances are spent on food, medicine, shelter and other necessities.

Although each remittance is small, together they are huge, especially in comparison to the size of the economies that receive them. The latest estimate from the World Bank puts their magnitude at roughly $283 billion this year, and for many countries remittances are larger than the foreign aid or private investments they receive. Some of the largest recipients of remittances are people in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Brazil and Egypt. In Mexico, families receive more than $26 billion in remittances each year, primarily from people working in the U.S.

Remittances’ most important economic and social effect is they directly alleviate poverty by providing significant income to some of the poorest members of society. This makes remittances very different from foreign aid or trade, which at best trickle down to the poor. And remittances have been a remarkably stable source of income, serving as a buffer against bad times. When a developing economy suffers a downturn, more people migrate and the migrants send more remittances to their loved ones. This process has made remittances a tremendous stabilizing factor in many developing nations.

Until now, that is. There are already signs that the global slowdown is affecting the demand for migrant labor in both the industrialized and the Persian Gulf countries, the main sources of remittance income. In fact, the most recent numbers show that remittances to Mexico, the Middle East and Africa have dropped considerably. If this trend continues, which is likely given the depth of the impending recession, the impact on the recipient countries could be severe.

For countries like Lebanon, for example, where remittances account for more than 21 percent of GDP, a drop in these flows could send the government budget and the economy into a tailspin. The same could be said for other remittance-dependent countries such as Pakistan, which is already suffering from social and political unrest. Even the Philippines, thought to have escaped the brunt of the crisis so far, may feel its impact if remittances fall from their current level of more than $13 billion per year.

What will happen when the safety net that hundreds of millions of people have come to rely on fails? At the very least, we will see an increase in the number of people suffering from hunger and disease. Unemployment will rise to even higher levels as migrants who lose their jobs are forced to return home. Social unrest will likely follow, and as we have seen too many times already, it will not be limited by national boundaries.

The upshot is there is far more at stake than we realize in getting our own financial and economic problems sorted out, and quickly. The fates of millions of people who are directly linked to our economy through remittances also depend on our decisions.

By Connel Fullenkamp
Duke University

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Report Shows Lawsuit Abuse Still Widespread

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement from Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), is a response to the Judicial Hellholes 2008/2009 report released today by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA):

"While the majority of Americans understand there are too many frivolous and unfair lawsuits in our country, the Judicial Hellholes report reveals that lawsuit abuse remains alive and well in many jackpot jurisdictions.

"States with jackpot jurisdictions are branded as having unfriendly environments in which to work and do business, as confirmed by the low scores they received in ILR's report, Lawsuit Climate 2008. During this global economic downturn, we encourage state leaders to commit to reforming these trial lawyer-dominated jurisdictions that are driving away local jobs, revenue and opportunity.

"We commend ATRA for helping shine a spotlight on efforts by the trial bar to slip liability expanding measures in bills before Congress and state legislatures. During a 2008 election night poll, voters overwhelmingly opposed these trial lawyer earmarks, saying that giving lawyers more opportunity to sue would only hurt our already struggling economy."

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is the Media to Blame for Making Economic Crisis Worse?

/PRNewswire/ -- An overwhelming 77 percent of Americans believe that the US media is making the economic situation worse by projecting fear into people's minds. The majority of those surveyed feel that the financial press, by focusing on and embellishing negative news, is damaging consumer confidence and damping investment, making a difficult situation much worse.

Richard L. Scheff, a national expert on corporate liability and white collar crime issues, warns media that they could potentially be exposed to liability despite apparent constitutional protections:

"Although statements by the media are protected by the First Amendment, the survey results demonstrate that the public believes that the press bears some responsibility for the lack of confidence in the economy. One would hope that these media would act less out of self-interest in these times of national crisis. I could see creative lawyers attempting to pierce constitutional protections by constructing theories of liability for losses they may allege were driven by irresponsible news releases," said Mr. Scheff, vice chairman and partner with Philadelphia-based law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads.

The US survey of 1000 adults was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, on behalf of Park Lane Communications, and is statistically representative of the total U.S. population. The survey question asked was: "Do you think the financial press is making the economic crisis worse by projecting fear into people's minds?" While the overall response indicated that 77% of Americans answered YES, here are some highlights of note:

Household Incomes:
$25k - $35k - 79% answered YES
$35k - $50k - 88% answered YES
$50k - $75k - 76% answered YES
$75k - more - 78% answered YES

Demographics:
85% of young adults (18-24 yrs old) answered YES
77% of males and females alike answered YES
65% of blacks answered YES

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Friday, December 12, 2008

One in Every 31 U.S. Adults Were in Prison or Jail or on Probation or Parole in 2007

TT Note: So who do you know? These numbers are just downright scary.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 7.3 million men and women were under correctional supervision in the nation's prisons or jails or on probation or parole at yearend 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. About 3.2 percent of the U.S. adult population, or one in every 31 adults, was incarcerated or under community supervision at the end of 2007. This percentage has remained stable since reaching more than 3 percent in 1999.

About 70 percent (5.1 million) of the adults under correctional supervision at yearend 2007 were supervised in the community (either on probation or parole), and 30 percent (2.3 million) were incarcerated in the nation's prisons or jails. Offenders held in custody in state or federal prisons or local jails increased by 1.5 percent since yearend 2006. The population under community supervision (either on probation or parole) increased 2.1 percent.

State and federal correctional authorities had jurisdiction or legal authority over nearly 1.6 million prisoners, an increase of 1.8 percent since yearend 2006. Though the number of prisoners increased, the rate of growth, compared to the average annual growth from 2000 to 2006, slowed by 0.2 percent. The imprisonment rate continued to increase, reaching 506 persons per 100,000 U.S. residents.

During 2007, the federal prison population experienced the largest absolute increase of 6,572 prisoners, followed by Florida (5,250), Kentucky (2,457), and Arizona (1,945). Combined, these increases resulted in 59 percent of the overall change in the U.S. prison population.

Federal prisons operated at 136 percent of capacity in 2007. State prisons operated between 96 percent of highest capacity and 113 percent of lowest capacity, compared to between 100 percent and 115 percent in 2000. This trend indicates that prison populations are increasing at the same rate of capacity.

More than eight in 10 offenders supervised in the community at yearend 2007 were on probation (4,293,163), while less than two in 10 offenders were on parole (824,365). About one in every 45 adults in the U.S. was on probation or parole at the end of the year.

The total community supervision population grew by 103,100 offenders during 2007. While the parole population (up 3.2 percent) increased at a faster pace than probation (up 1.8 percent) in 2007, probation accounted for three-quarters (77,800) of the growth in offenders under community supervision.

Entries to probation supervision (2.4 million) exceeded exits from supervision (2.3 million) in 2007. Similarly, entries to parole supervision (555,900) also exceeded exits from parole (531,400) during 2007. A total of 1,180,469 parolees were at risk of being re-incarcerated in 2007, which included those under parole supervision on January 1 or who entered parole during the year. Of these parolees, about 16 percent were re-incarcerated in 2007.

The report, Prisoners in 2007 (NCJ-224280), was written by BJS statisticians Heather C. West and William J. Sabol, Ph.D., and Probation and Parole in the United States, 2007 - Statistical Tables (NCJ- 224707) was prepared by BJS statisticians Lauren E. Glaze and Thomas P. Bonczar.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Staph Infections Hit Professional Football Hard

/PRNewswire/ -- Joe Jurevicius, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Kellen Winslow. Unfortunately, during the past few months the list of top professional football players affected by Staphylococcus Aureus, commonly called staph, seems to read as a who's who of the National Football League (NFL). Whether the source of these infections is healthcare facilities where athletes are undergoing surgeries, locker rooms, or turf on the playing fields, staph and its close relative Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA, have reared their ugly heads in the NFL again.

Although not a new trend, it is an alarming one as more and more athletes miss multiple games due to these infections. As the number of cases of MRSA, a type of staph infection that is resistant to many common antibiotics, has increased in the community versus hospital settings, so have contact sports-related infections. This is mostly due to how the infection is spread.

Staph and MRSA are usually spread from person-to-person through direct skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces such as towels, used bandages, hot and cold tubs, or weight-training equipment surfaces that have touched a person's infection. MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils that are red, swollen and painful. MRSA can be life threatening when it enters the body through scrapes and scratches, potentially leading to blood and joint infections, and pneumonia. In hospital-acquired MRSA, the infection usually enters the body during a surgery or other open-wound procedure.

"All of us in the sports medicine profession know that protecting our players from infections such as staph or MRSA are priorities," said Dean Kleinschmidt, coordinator of athletic medicine/athletic trainer for the Detroit Lions. "To do this, many of us have started very strict facility cleaning procedures and provided our players with educational materials and workshops that show them how they can also prevent it."

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) recently posted information to its web site about staph infections and MRSA provided by NFLPA Medical Director Dr. Thom Mayer. This includes how players can lower their chances of contracting staph such as:

-- Players need to have effective hygiene with equipment, which means wiping down a training bench or table.

-- Make sure the trainer uses a germicidal foam and wipes down the table between players.

-- Showering following whirlpool treatments.

-- The single most important thing for prevention is hand-washing with soap and water, or if MRSA is known to be present, with chlorhexidene (Hibiclens).

In addition to several other measures aimed at reducing the risk of infection, cleansers with chlorhexidene gluconate (CHG) have been recommended by medical organizations to be used prior to surgeries as a bathing agent, specifically 4 percent CHG since it is more effective than iodine or plain soap. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends that hospitals require patients to shower or bathe with an antiseptic agent at least the night before the operative day.

"Cleansers with 4 percent CHG cleanse the skin, but also add a barrier for hours of protection," said Jack Doornbos, executive director, Molnlycke Health Care, maker of Hibiclens(R) skin cleanser. "CHG has been used in hospitals and operating rooms for decades to prevent the spread of infection. But now, with MRSA and other resistant infections becoming more common in the community and sports, it's been even more important to add protection, while not leaving a residue that affects sports performance."

Infection risk can be even higher among amateur and recreation-level athletes. This is due to the fact that many athletes at an amateur level don't shower immediately after activities. For them, washing with a CHG product such as Hibiclens, especially the hands and arms, before an activity can dramatically reduce the risk of infection.

Hibiclens is an antimicrobial/antiseptic cleanser that kills germs on contact and bonds with the skin to keep killing microorganisms for up to six hours without leaving a residue. The same cleanser with alcohol is available in convenient towelettes called Hibistat(R). Both are available at drug stores and pharmacies in the first aid section. For more information about Hibiclens, Hibistat or CHG, visit www.hibigeebies.com.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

FDA Announces Permanent Injunction Against Wilderness Family Naturals LLC

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that Wilderness Family Naturals LLC of Silver Bay, Minn., and its owners have signed a consent decree that prohibits them from manufacturing and distributing any products with unapproved claims that the products cure, treat, mitigate or prevent diseases.

Wilderness Family is a manufacturer and distributor of conventional foods, dietary supplements and various salves, all branded under the Wilderness Family name. The company promoted several of its products for the treatment, cure, mitigation or prevention of disease by making claims on their products' labels, their Web site, and on other Web sites accessed by links found on their Web site.

“The FDA is acting to protect the American public from companies making unapproved disease treatment claims for their products,” said Michael Chappell, the FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Claims made by Wilderness Family might distract consumers from seeking products that have been shown to be safe and effective in treating disease.”

Wilderness Family has a history of promoting its products for the treatment of diseases, and recently referred customers to seemingly independent Web sites that were actually controlled by Wilderness Family. The Web sites claimed benefits for its products against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV and AIDS, and arthritis.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the company and its owners, Kenneth H. Fischer and Annette C. Fischer, cannot promote claims related to their products’ ability to fight diseases unless the products receive FDA approval as new drugs or satisfy FDA’s investigational new drug requirements.

Wilderness Family and its owners also have agreed to remove disease claims from their products’ labels, labeling and Web sites, as well as references to other Web sites that contain such claims. The company and its owners have also agreed to hire an independent expert to review the claims they make for all of their products and to certify to the FDA that they are not making any illegal claims.

The FDA can order Wilderness Family to stop manufacturing and distributing any product if they fail to comply with any provision of the consent decree, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDA regulations. Defendants are also required to pay $1,000 per violation per day if they fail to comply with the consent decree.

The decree was signed by Judge Donovan W. Frank on December 8, 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

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Report Finds Economic Crisis Hurting U.S. Preparedness for Health Emergencies

Report Finds Economic Crisis Hurting U.S. Preparedness for Health Emergencies; More Than Half of States Score 7 or Lower Out of 10 in Readiness Rankings

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today released the sixth annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, which finds that progress made to better protect the country from disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and bioterrorism is now at risk, due to budget cuts and the economic crisis. In addition, the report concludes that major gaps remain in many critical areas of preparedness, including surge capacity, rapid disease detection, and food safety.

The report contains state-by-state health preparedness scores based on 10 key indicators to assess health emergency preparedness capabilities. More than half of states and D.C. achieved a score of seven or less out of 10 key indicators. Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin scored the highest with 10 out of 10. Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Montana, and Nebraska tied for the lowest score with five out of 10.

Over the past six years, the Ready or Not? report has documented steady progress toward improved public health preparedness. This year however, TFAH found that cuts in federal funding for state and local preparedness since 2005, coupled with the cuts states are making to their budgets in response to the economic crisis, put that progress at risk.

"The economic crisis could result in a serious rollback of the progress we've made since September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina to better prepare the nation for emergencies," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "The 25 percent cut in federal support to protect Americans from diseases, disasters, and bioterrorism is already hurting state response capabilities. The cuts to state budgets in the next few years could lead to a disaster for the nation's disaster preparedness."

Some serious 2008 health emergencies include a Salmonella outbreak in jalapeno and Serrano peppers that sickened 1,442 people in 43 states, the largest beef recall in history in February, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, severe flooding in the Midwest, major wildfires in California in June and November, and a ricin scare in Las Vegas.

Among the key findings:

Budget Cuts: Federal funding for state and local preparedness has been cut more than 25 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2005, and states are no longer receiving any supplemental funding for pandemic flu preparedness, despite increased responsibilities.

-- In addition to the federal decreases, 11 states and D.C. cut their
public health budgets in the past year. In the coming year, according
to the Center on Budget and Policy and Priorities, 33 states are
facing shortfalls in their 2009 budgets and 16 states are already
projecting shortfalls to their 2010 budgets.

Rapid Disease Detection: Since September 11, 2001, the country has made significant progress in improving disease detection capabilities, but major gaps still remain.

-- Only six states do not have a disease surveillance system compatible
with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)
National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.
-- Twenty-four states and D.C. lack the capacity to deliver and receive
lab specimens, such as suspected bioterror agents or new disease
outbreak samples, on a 24/7 basis.
-- Only three state public health laboratories are not able to meet the
expectations of their state's pandemic flu plans.

Food Safety: America's food safety system has not been fundamentally modernized in more than 100 years.

-- Twenty states and D.C. did not meet or exceed the national average
rate for being able to identify the pathogens responsible for food
borne disease outbreaks in their states.

Surge Capacity: Many states do not have mechanisms in place to support and protect the community assistance that is often required during a major emergency.

-- Twenty-six states do not have laws that reduce or limit liability for
businesses and non-profit organizations that help during a public
health emergency.
-- Only eight states do not have laws that limit or reduce liability
exposure for health care workers who volunteer during a public health
emergency.
-- Seventeen states do not have State Medical Reserve Corps Coordinators.

Vaccine and Medication Supplies and Distribution: Ensuring the public can quickly and safely receive medications during a major health emergency is one of the most serious challenges facing public health officials.

-- Sixteen states have purchased less than half of their share of
federally-subsidized antivirals to use during a pandemic flu outbreak.
-- Every state now has an adequate plan for distributing emergency
vaccines, antidotes, and medical supplies from the Strategic National
Stockpile, according to the CDC. In 2005, only seven states had
adequate plans. The CDC changed to a different grading system in
2007. However, questions still remain about the contents of the
federal stockpile.

"States are being asked to do more with less, jeopardizing our safety, security, and health," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We all have a stake in strengthening America's public health system, because it is our first line of defense against health emergencies."

The report also offers a series of recommendations for improving preparedness, including:

-- Restoring Full Funding. At a minimum, federal, state, and local
funding for public health emergency preparedness capabilities should
be restored to FY 2005 levels.
-- Strengthening Leadership and Accountability. The next administration
must clarify the public health emergency preparedness roles and
responsibilities at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
-- Enhancing Surge Capacity and the Public Health Workforce. Federal,
state, and local governments and health care providers must better
address altered standards of care, alternative care sites, legal
concerns to protect community assistance, and surge workforce issues.
-- Modernizing Technology and Equipment. Communications and surveillance
systems and laboratories need increased resources for modernization.
-- Improving Community Engagement. Additional measures must be taken to
engage communities in emergency planning and to improve protections
for at-risk communities.
-- Incorporating Preparedness into Health Care Reform and Creating an
Emergency Health Benefit. This is needed to contain the spread of
disease by providing care to the uninsured and underinsured Americans
during major disasters and disease outbreaks.

Score Summary:

For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator. Zero is the lowest possible overall score, 10 is the highest. The data for the indicators are from publicly available sources or were provided from public officials. More information on each indicator is available in the full report on TFAH's Web site at www.healthyamericans.org and RWJF's Web site at www.rwjf.org. The report was supported by a grant from RWJF.

10 out of 10: Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin

9 out of 10: Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont,

8 out of 10: Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington

7 out of 10: California, Colorado, D.C., Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

6 out of 10: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas

5 out of 10: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, Montana

A five minute video about the report is available at: http://healthyamericans.org/reports/bioterror08/video/

Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need -- the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

USA TODAY Special Report Investigates Impact of Industrial Pollution on America's Schools

TT Note: Sounds fascinating. With all the focus on keeping our children safe at school.......

/PRNewswire/ -- USA TODAY, the nation's top-selling newspaper, launches an investigative series today called "The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America's Schools." The special project looks at issues such as why children are vulnerable to toxic chemicals and, using the government's own data and modeling software, points to schools which appear to be in toxic hot spots. The series, which took eight months to produce and will run through the month, can be found at smokestack.usatoday.com.

An interactive database of nearly 128,000 schools featured online at smokestack.usatoday.com shows how emissions of toxic chemicals may affect the air at schools across the country. It also shows how schools rank in their exposure to cancer-causing and other toxic chemicals. The database is modeled on information reported to the government by 20,000 industrial plants. The series also offers information on how Americans can learn more about the air outside their schools and do something about it.

In Part I of the "The Smokestack Effect," which appears today in the newspaper and online, USA TODAY compares what the model shows to what the State of Ohio found after it monitored the air outside Meredith Hitchens Elementary School in Addyston, a Cincinnati suburb. In 2005, Hitchens was closed after the Ohio EPA found levels of carcinogens 50 times higher than what the state considers acceptable. The chemicals were emitted from a plastics plant across the street from the school. USA TODAY found that the air outside 435 schools nationwide may be even worse than the air was outside Hitchens when it closed. Those schools, identified by the government's own data and model, extended from East Coast to West, in 170 cities across 34 states.

USA TODAY also worked with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health to take "snapshots" of the air at almost 95 schools in 30 states. The series will continue on Tuesday with a look at what USA TODAY discovered and what experts say needs to be done to help parents and school districts know for certain what's in the air outside schools.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Have a Happy Lead-Free Holiday

We often hear reports about lead in toys, electrical cords, holiday lights and artificial Christmas trees this time of year. Lead poisoning is very dangerous. Make every attempt to reduce exposure to lead hazards for you and your family.

Lead poisoning damages the brain and central nervous system, which can lead to learning disabilities, seizures or even death. Children are at greatest risk of exposure because they’re more likely to touch things and then put their contaminated hands into their mouths.

Lead may be found in the paint on some imported toys or in some plastics. Using lead in house paint, children’s products, dishes and cookware was banned in the United States in 1978. Lead is still used in other countries and may be found on some imported toys.

Lead may also be in certain plastics where it is used to soften it and make it more flexible. As the plastic is exposed to sunlight, air or detergents, the bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms harmful dust.

If you think your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, remove the toy immediately and ask your healthcare provider about getting your child tested for lead. There will be no visible symptoms of lead poisoning. For information on toy recalls, go to www.cpsc.gov or call (800) 638-2772.

Manufacturers may use lead as part of the polyvinyl chloride insulation around the wiring on strings of lights or the branches of artificial trees. Lead helps stabilize PVC so it doesn’t crack or crumble with age. It also acts as a fire retardant.

To reduce the lead dangers in your home during the holidays, wash your hands after hanging lights and decorations. If you own an older artificial tree and lights, replace them. When shopping for a new tree and lights, be sure to read the warning labels to determine if the products contain lead.

To further reduce your family’s exposure to lead:

Place a doormat by all outside doors and remove shoes outside to prevent tracking in lead dust.
Keep areas where children play clean and dust-free.
Leave lead-based paint undisturbed if it is in good condition.
Use lead-safe practices when removing paint, or hire a professional.
Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and iron.
While there are many different sources of lead, the primary source of lead poisoning in children is still lead-based paint. There are do-it-yourself lead testing kits available, however, they aren’t very reliable and don’t indicate how much lead is present.

Contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 for more information on how to safely remove lead from your home.

By Pamela Turner
University of Georgia

Pamela Turner is an Extension housing specialist with the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Major Apparel Retailer To Pay a $60,000 Civil Penalty For Failure To Report Drawstrings In Children's Outerwear

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Nordstrom Inc., of Seattle, Wash., has agreed to pay a $60,000 civil penalty. The penalty settles allegations that the firm knowingly failed to report to the CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that its children's hooded jackets and sweaters were sold with drawstrings at the hood and neck. These products, which the firm eventually recalled, pose a strangulation hazard that can cause death to children. The settlement has been provisionally accepted by the Commission.

CPSC alleged that Nordstrom failed to report to the government in a timely manner that drawstring jackets and sweaters were sold by the firm. Nordstrom sold about 2,400 drawstring jackets and sweaters in the United States between November 2007 and December 2007. In February 2008 and March 2008, CPSC and Nordstrom announced the recall of the drawstring jackets and sweaters.

In February 1996, CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) to help prevent children from getting entangled and possibly strangling on hood and neck drawstrings in upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. In May 2006, CPSC's Office of Compliance announced (pdf) that children's upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and a substantial risk of injury to young children.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates any consumer product safety rule, or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by the CPSC.

In agreeing to settle the matter, Nordstrom Inc. denies CPSC's allegations that it knowingly violated the law.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

FDA, EPA and USDA Conclude That Accidental Release of Genetically Engineered Cotton Poses No Safety Risk to Humans or Animals

The U.S. government announced today that there is no food or feed safety concern from an incident in which a small portion of an unauthorized genetically engineered (GE) cotton variety was harvested along with commercially available GE cotton.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are working together following notification by the Monsanto Company that a small amount--less than an acre--of an unauthorized GE cotton variety was harvested along with 54 acres of a commercially available GE cotton variety. This unauthorized GE cotton variety produces a pesticide that is a plant-incorporated protectant (PIP) nearly identical to a registered product already in a marketed corn variety. EPA and FDA have concluded that there are no food or feed safety concerns related to this incident. Also, if animals had consumed meal made from the unauthorized GE cotton variety, there would be no residues in the meat, milk or eggs. Additionally, USDA has determined that the unauthorized GE cotton poses no plant pest concerns.

According to Monsanto, an estimated 60 tons of cottonseed was harvested, of which less than 0.5 percent was from the unauthorized GE cotton variety. Government policies for handling low-level presence (LLP) of unauthorized materials are applicable to incidents in which unauthorized materials become inadvertently mixed with commercial grain or seed. FDA, EPA and USDA are working together to investigate the matter.

The U.S. government is investigating whether a small amount of meal from the unauthorized GE cotton variety may have been inadvertently released into the animal feed supply. It is important to note that it has not been determined whether unauthorized cottonseed meal actually entered the feed supply. The processor is holding potentially affected material (both processed and unprocessed) pending further investigation.

Based on additional data provided by Monsanto on the protein produced in the GE cotton--a variant of Cry 1A 105 that acts as a pesticide against cotton insect pests--EPA has concluded that there would be no risk to animals consuming small amounts of feed from the unauthorized cotton, nor to humans from consuming meat or milk from these animals. While EPA has concluded that consuming small amounts of the cottonseed poses no food or animal feed safety risks, under that Agency’s LLP policy, the presence of this material in food or feed would be illegal.

FDA, USDA and EPA are the three government entities primarily responsible for regulatory oversight of GE crop plants and their products. Their responsibilities are complementary. FDA has jurisdiction over food and feed uses of all foods from plants. USDA has jurisdiction over the introduction into the environment of GE plants which may be plant pests. EPA regulates pesticides produced by GE plants such as the pesticidal protein produced by the cotton in this case. These pesticides are called PIPs.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

International Formula Council Statement on Melamine and Infant Formulas

/PRNewswire/ -- The International Formula Council* (IFC) today issued the following statement:

"In light of recent reports regarding melamine and infant formula, the International Formula Council and its members reassure parents and health professionals that infant formula manufactured in the United States remains safe and nutritious. Additionally, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesperson has stated, 'There's no basis for concern because we're talking about trace levels that are so low ... that there's absolutely no risk.'

"While trace levels of melamine may be found in food as a by-product of processing and packaging, these levels are far below the level deemed safe by numerous other governments including Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, and China. Further, these trace amounts are far below the levels recently found in Chinese infant formulas intentionally contaminated with melamine.

"U.S. infant formula products meet the highest standards and specifications; they are manufactured with strict adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices using high-quality ingredients. Each component in the manufacturing process is carefully assessed to ensure that it complies with strict industry standards, and finished products are tested to meet or exceed all FDA standards for infant formula. The IFC and its members are committed to the continued high standards of food safety we have established with the FDA. IFC would also welcome the opportunity to help further implement these standards and quality control testing requirements globally."

* The International Formula Council is an association of manufacturers and marketers of formulated nutrition products, e.g., infant formulas and adult nutritionals, whose members are based predominantly in North America. IFC members are: Abbott Nutrition; Mead Johnson Nutritionals; Nestle Nutrition -- USA; and Wyeth Nutrition.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

National Wooden Pallet and Container Association: Environment for Sale

TT Note: Tsk, tsk.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The principles of the president of the National Forest Foundation (NFF) Bill Possiel are clearly for sale to the highest donor. The evidence of this is his recent misinformation campaign promoting the use of plastic pallets over wood on behalf of recent contributor Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS).

"Of all the hardwood logged in the United States, 40 percent is used for pallets which are frequently used only once and then landfilled. Wood pallets are heavy, bulky, and increase shipping costs and energy used in transportation," said NFF President Bill Possiel. "We are proud to work with iGPS to restore our forests and reduce demand for hardwood species, which sequester carbon and provide many other ecosystem benefits."

Reuters, October 7, 2008

The iGPS company has said it will make a contribution to the NFF every time an iGPS pallet is rented over the next two years. That means the more plastic that is unleashed into the environment, the more money for the NFF. They are doing this to offset the damage plastic inflicts on the environment.

Contrast the environmental impact of plastic pallets with wood.

Carbon sequestration is the process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by trees through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (trunks, branches, foliage, and roots) and soils. Carbon sequestration in forests and wood products helps offset fossil fuel emissions, one of the key drivers of human-induced climate change.

Sustainable forestry practices can increase the ability of forests to sequester additional atmospheric carbon while enhancing other ecosystem services, such as improved soil and water quality. Planting trees, restoring forested ecosystems, and improving forest health are some of the ways to increase forest carbon. Harvesting and regenerating forests can also result in net carbon sequestration in wood products and new forest growth. Investing in forest carbon sequestration projects is a cost-effective way to complement corporate greenhouse gas reductions or allowance purchases.

USDA Forest Service

In other words, while plastic pallets need a carbon offset to mitigate the injury imposed by their product, wood pallets are the offset!

Mr. Possiel's devotion to the organization's bank account over conviction appears to be immense since he not only commended the plastic product corporation, but in so doing he used half-truths and outright falsehoods against the far more environmentally favorable wood pallet industry.

-- Half-Truth: "Of all the hardwood logged in the United States, 40
percent is used for pallets..."


That is true, but what he failed to add is the fact that wood pallets are a byproduct using wood that is rejected by housing and furniture makers for aesthetic reasons yet strong and durable enough for transport and shipping platforms. If the plastic pallet industry were to gain the market advantage they seek, the wood currently used for wood pallets would become wood waste.

-- Falsehood: Mr. Possiel said that wood pallets are frequently used only
once and then landfilled. There are more than 1.2 billion pallets in
service in the United States each day. They are collected, sorted,
repaired and returned to service by the largest pallet pool in the
world. That pool is comprised of more than 5,000 independently owned
and operated white wood pallet companies across the country. It is an
informal pool, yet awe-inspiring in its efficiency.


With wood pallets comprising 83% of the market, they are recognized throughout the supply chain as a commodity far too valuable to simply discard as refuse. Pallets are bought by shippers, sold to recyclers by retailers, repaired and resold to shippers. That cycle occurs over-and-over.

-- Falsehood: When pallets can no longer be repaired to a standard that
will ensure protection of the goods being shipped and safety of
workers handling the load, the pallets are recycled into new products.
Those products include landscape mulch, animal bedding, boiler fuel,
firewood, and wood stove pellets. The nails from ground pallet chips
are removed through a variety of collection technologies and sold as
scrap metal to be used again.


If a random pallet does end up at a solid waste management facility it is "repurposed" into such things as wood mulch or energy -- it does not go into landfill (source: National Solid Wastes Management Association). The wood pallet has value that is used from cradle to grave.

Mr. Possiel also failed to address the fact that the business model and success of companies like iGPS depend upon the infrastructure of independent wood pallet recyclers who collect, sort and return the pallets. If these wood recycling companies were to go out of business, plastic pallets would become one-way pallets unless iGPS and other pallet management firms were to purchase, maintain and fuel trucks and facilities around the country dedicated to pallet collection. Obviously this would skyrocket the cost of these already exorbitant plastic pallets.

Mr. Possiel is not serving the interests of the NFF when he allows himself to become the mouthpiece of iGPS. As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." The facts clearly support wood pallets as the environmental choice.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

New Consumer Health Guide -- 'Pass Up the Poison Plastic, The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home' Released Just in Time

New Consumer Health Guide -- 'Pass Up the Poison Plastic, The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home' Released Just in Time for the Holiday Shopping Season

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new guide released today just in time for the holiday shopping season empowers parents and consumers worried about toxic chemicals in toys, baby products, and the home to find safer products. Pass Up the Poison Plastic -- the PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home lists the most common consumer products made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and suggests safer PVC-free options. PVC, also known as vinyl, is the worst plastic for our health and environment, releasing dangerous chemicals that can cause cancer. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), who coordinates a national campaign to phase out PVC, released the new guide. It can be downloaded for free at www.besafenet.com/pvc.

It also includes the top ten reasons for purchasing PVC-free products, quick tips for avoiding PVC, a listing of common household products that may contain PVC, information about other toxic plastics to avoid, a cheat sheet to common plastic acronyms, information on simple actions consumers can take for safer products and a healthier environment, and more.

"We need to take personal responsibility for the health and environmental impacts of the products we purchase," said Mike Schade, co-author of the guide and PVC Campaign Coordinator for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. "We've created this new guide to empower consumers to find safer solutions to PVC, the most toxic plastic for our health and environment. We can help build consumer consciousness and demand for safer, healthier products by purchasing PVC-free products."

PVC products often contain dangerous toxic additives such as phthalates, lead, and organotins, which can leach out and pose avoidable dangers to consumers. Many toxic toys recalled over the past few years were made out of PVC. In the summer of 2008, Congress enacted legislation to ban phthalates in children's toys, but they are still allowed in all other PVC products in the home, despite their known hazards. A number of studies have identified correlations between phthalates in PVC products and asthma in children and adults.

A number of major retailers, including Target, Sears Holdings, Wal-Mart, JCPenneys, and IKEA have enacted major policies to reduce or phase out PVC products and/or packaging.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Major Retailer Agrees to Pay $500,000 Civil Penalty for Failure to Report Hazardous Outdoor Candles

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that IKEA North America Services LLC, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., has agreed to pay the government a $500,000 civil penalty. The penalty, which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, settles allegations that the company failed to immediately report incidents about defective outdoor candles.

CPSC alleged that IKEA failed to report to the government in a timely manner that outdoor candles sold by the firm could unexpectedly flare up and pose fire and burn injury hazards to consumers, when they attempted to extinguish the candles by blowing them out.

IKEA sold about 133,000 six-pack sets of the outdoor candles in the United States between February 2001 and July 2005. The firm also sold an additional 1.3 million candle sets internationally. During that time, the firm received at least 32 reports worldwide of unexpected flare-ups, including fire, scorching and twelve reported injuries, including minor to serious burns. In May 2006, CPSC and IKEA announced the recall of the candles.

Federal Law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to report to CPSC immediately after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect, which could create a substantial product hazard or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.

In agreeing to settle the allegations, IKEA North America Services denies that it knowingly violated federal law.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Warning: Hazardous to Your Lungs

TT Note: Just another thought on the long term effects of willingly adding toxic chemicals to your body in the name of fun. Read and learn.

Chronic drinking isn’t just bad for the liver, it’s hazardous to the lungs....

The Hidden Truth about Alcohol
By Valerie Gregg

Read the story.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Is your Christmas Tree making You Ill

TT Note: There's no doubt live trees in the house can aggravate allergies and asthma. The allergists in Fayette County recommend no live trees for homes whose occupants have allergies. Washing down the artificial tree as an attempt to lesson mold spores is a great idea.

24-7-- Could it be your Christmas tree that's making you sick? Recent studies tend to support that theory. It seems that Christmas trees, either real or artificial can be a source of mold or allergens that can be the cause of those "sniffles" you seem to have at this time of the year.

In a recent study, mold spores in an apartment had a normal range of 500-700 spores per cubic meter. When the Christmas tree was added, the spores measured about 800 spores per cubic meter of air for the first three days. By day 14 the spores count had increased to 5,000 spores per cubic meter. If you have asthma or are prone to sinus infections you are likely to have a problem. The longer you leave the tree up the worse the contamination.

An artificial tree, stored in the attic or basement for a year can pose many of the same problems. It can acquire pollens, dust or mold. Taking the tree outdoors and washing it down can help. But that isn't always possible due to cold temperatures of the season.

Minnesota based WorldWide Oxide markets and EPA approved GREEN mold preventer Vital Oxide. Vital Oxide is totally safe, is odorless, and contains no harmful VOC's states company spokesman Tom Heller. Simply spray Vital Oxide onto the tree every few days during the season, and the mold or allergen problem will not be a factor in your home states Heller. Because Vital Oxide is odorless, you will not have to worry about some cover-up scent destroying your Christmas ambiance.

For more information on the studies visit the WorldWide Oxide web site at http://www.worldwideoxide.com.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

National Report Ranks Georgia 50th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

TT Note: Where do the kids smoke? So many areas are smoke free these days and I have to admit I like the fresher air. Maybe Georgia should consider collecting two dollars from the tobacco companies for every dollar the companies spend in advertising in the state. Perhaps convenience stores will have to tighten their own rules and regulations for selling cigarettes to minors. Just a thought.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ten years after the November 1998 state tobacco settlement, Georgia ranks 50th in the nation in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

Georgia currently spends $3.2 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, which is 2.7 percent of the $116.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Other key findings for Georgia include:
-- The tobacco companies spend more than $444 million a year on marketing
in Georgia. This is 139 times what the state spends on tobacco
prevention.
-- Georgia this year will collect $393 million from the tobacco
settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than 1 percent of it
on tobacco prevention.


The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Decade of Broken Promises," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Georgia is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to funding programs to protect kids from tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "On this 10th anniversary of the tobacco settlement, we call on Georgia's leaders to raise the state cigarette tax and use some of the new revenue to increase funding for tobacco prevention. Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

Georgia's current cigarette tax of 37 cents per pack is 43rd in the nation and well below the national average of $1.19 per pack. Scientific studies have found that increasing cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to prevent kids from smoking and encourage smokers to quit.

On Nov. 23, 1998, 46 states settled their lawsuits against the nation's major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs, joining four states (Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Minnesota) that had reached earlier settlements. These settlements require the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity, with total payments estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years. The states also collect billions of dollars each year in tobacco taxes.

The new report finds that most states have broken their promise to use a significant portion of their tobacco money to fund programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.

According to the report, the states in the last 10 years have received $203.5 billion in revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. But they have spent only 3.2 percent of this tobacco money - $6.5 billion - on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Other findings of the report include:
-- In the current year, no state is funding tobacco prevention at
CDC-recommended levels, and only nine states fund their programs at
even half of the CDC recommendation.
-- 41 states and the District of Columbia are funding tobacco prevention
programs at less than half the CDC-recommended amount. These include
27 states that are providing less than a quarter of the recommended
funding.
-- Total funding for state tobacco prevention programs this year, $718.1
million, amounts to less than three percent of the $24.6 billion the
states will collect from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. It
would take just 15 percent of this tobacco revenue to fund tobacco
prevention programs in every state at CDC-recommended levels.


The report warns that the nation faces two immediate challenges in the fight against tobacco use: complacency and looming state budget shortfalls. First, while the nation has made significant progress over the past decade in reducing smoking, progress has slowed and further progress is at risk without aggressive efforts at all levels of government. Second, the states are expected to face budget shortfalls in the coming year as a result of the weak economy. The last time the states faced significant budget shortfalls, they cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 28 percent between 2002 and 2005. The cutbacks are a major reason why smoking declines subsequently stalled, and states should not make the same mistake again.

The report found that there is more evidence than ever that tobacco prevention programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. Washington State, which has been a national leader in funding tobacco prevention, has reduced smoking by 60 percent among sixth graders and by 43 percent among 12th graders since the late 1990s. A recent study found that California's tobacco control program saved $86 billion in health care costs in its first 15 years, compared to $1.8 billion spent on the program, for a return on investment of nearly 50:1.

In Georgia, 18.6 percent of high school students smoke, and 11,300 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 10,300 lives and costs the state $2.25 billion in health care bills.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Got the No Drixoral Drips

Fall has arrived and so has my seasonal cold. I've been using the wonder drug of my choice for close to 20 years when I get all stuffed up. Ah, the agony of the cold season is upon us.

I limped up to the pharmacy counter just the other day to restock my supply of Drixoral. In between my nose blowing and sniffles, I asked the pharmacist for my wonder drug. Nope. Can't do it.

What? No Drixoral? Has there been a run on the only decongestant that really works for me? He said it hasn't been available in months.

So, I blew my noise and went home to my trusty computer to see if there was a problem or if it was just that particular pharmacy. Arrrrgggghhhhh.

Blogs everywhere say "No Drixoral." After the tears stopped, and I blew my now doubly stuffed nose, I went to the site of the manufacturer, Schering Plough.

Their excuse? And I quote- "We are in the process of changing our manufacturing location for our product. Although multiple solutions are being pursued, it is unlikely product will be available in 2009. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We can offer several alternatives in the meantime."

Sorry. Don't buy it. This great big pharmaceutical company would have us believe that they didn't cross all their t's and dot their i's with the FDA BEFORE they changed production sites. I don't think so. Come on. Now they say it is not likely there will be most likely be no Drixoral until 2010? Yeah. Right.

They recommend using a lesser drug. A drug that works- but doesn't work as well as my beloved Drixoral.

Come on, Schering gurus, be brave and give all suffering Americans the truth. Will you give us our nasal stuffiness relief in the formulation that is proven to work so well? Or will you succumb to government pressure to reformulate it so it doesn't work worth a hoot? By golly, we already are forced to sign away our first born and our inheritance just to get some decent decongestants.

Please save our stuffy noses. Please give us back our wonder drug, Drixoral. Please help me lose my drips.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Equifax Unveils Online Identity Card

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) unveiled today the Equifax online identity card or I-Card, with a beta test of a first-of-its-kind digital identity management solution that is designed to make online transactions easier and more secure for both consumers and businesses.

Information cards (I-cards) are the online equivalent of a driver's license, passport or similar ID and allow consumers to "click-in" to web and e-commerce sites that accept the I-card and conduct online transactions with greater security and control and without having to fill in forms or remember multiple passwords. It is anticipated that this ease-of-use and security will, over time, facilitate relationships between consumers and businesses by reducing the need for companies to retain customers' personal identification information, which could also result in the reduction of risks posed by data breaches.

Equifax is partnering with Parity, a leader in user-centric identity management, to offer the Equifax I-Card that enables people to verify their identity online. People who obtain the Equifax I-Card will also be offered Parity's Azigo I-card management software to enable one-click sign-in and identity verification. Consumers can get their Equifax I-Card free of charge at https://equifaxicards.com/ for use exclusively at a proof-of-concept site (http://watch-this.com/).

I-cards are a new technology standard for user-controlled release of personal information online. As the technology is adopted, people will be able to create and collect I-cards that contain personal data such as their profile, purchase preferences, payment, or verified identity information. They will manage their I-cards by using software such as Parity's Azigo I-card "selector" and will release their personal data to accepting web sites they trust with a single click.

"With fraud and identity theft on the rise, companies need better, more secure ways to conduct transactions online and take their identity management practices to the next level," said Steve Ely, president, Equifax Personal Information Solutions. "The launch of the Equifax I-Card is part of our commitment to build an identity management ecosystem that leverages the industry's latest technologies and data to help businesses address compliance needs and lower fraud rates."

"The Equifax I-Card is an important first step in the evolution of the information card ecosystem," said Jack Connors, President of Parity. "Information cards create the ultimate win-win: people get greater control and security with a vastly superior online experience, and businesses save money, reduce fraud, and get better customer information."

The Equifax I-Card is part of the growing trend to provide increased anonymity and security for a consumer's financial and credit information online. Equifax is working with Parity to help deliver this solution. It also used its premier authentication solution, eIDverifier (TM), as well as multiple data sources for identity verification along with open source technology that is endorsed by The Information Card Foundation (ICF), an industry consortium of consumer, data and technology companies.

The Equifax I-Card is among the first commercial I-card-based products to launch from members of ICF, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing a simpler and more secure digital identity on the Internet. Led by Deutsche Telecom, Equifax, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle PayPal and Parity, the ICF promotes the rapid build-out and adoption of Internet-enabled digital identities using information cards.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FDA Warns Public of Extortion Scam by FDA Impersonators

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about a fraudulent scheme to extort money from consumers by callers who falsely identify themselves as "FDA special agents" or other FDA officials.

Several instances have been reported to the FDA of calls enticing consumers to purchase discounted prescription drugs by wiring funds to one of several locations in the Dominican Republic. No medications are ever delivered. A subsequent call is received from a fraudulent "FDA special agent" informing the consumer that a fine of several thousand dollars is required to be sent to an address in the Dominican Republic to prevent incarceration or other legal action.

"Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law," said Michael Chappell, the FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The public should note that no FDA official will ever contact a consumer by phone demanding money or any other form of payment. FDA officials always present identification in person when conducting official business."

Consumers should note that the fraudulent calls appear to be from telephone numbers located within the United States, but are in fact from either ported voice-over-the-Internet-protocol numbers (calls made directly from a computer and moved or "ported" to other computers to avoid detection) or cellular phones. Reports to FDA describe the callers as having Hispanic accents.

The scheme most likely began with the theft of personal information from consumers who previously purchased drugs via the Internet or telephone or who were victims of credit card fraud.

The FDA is investigating and complaints or information regarding this scheme should be reported to the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations at (800) 521-5783.

The FDA reminds consumers to purchase prescription drugs only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. Information about the proper purchase of on-line medicine can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/consumer/features/drugsonline0707.html.

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Johnson and Johnson--Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Company Announces Urgent Voluntary Nationwide Recall Of Infants' Mylicon Gas Relief Dye Free Drops

Johnson & Johnson • Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Company (JJMCP) is voluntarily recalling approximately 12,000 units of Infants' MYLICON® GAS RELIEF DYE FREE drops (simethicone-antigas) non-staining sold in 1 oz. plastic bottles that were distributed after October 5, 2008 nationwide. The company is taking this action in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the potential for serious medical events is low, the company is implementing this recall to the consumer level as a precaution after determining that some bottles could include metal fragments that were generated during the manufacturing process. If any medical events were to occur, most are expected to be temporary and resolve without medical treatment. Parents who have given the product to their infant and are concerned should contact their health care provider immediately.

The two lots of Infants' MYLICON® GAS RELIEF DYE FREE drops non-staining 1 oz. bottles included in the recall are:

71683791111-1
Lot SMF007
Exp 09/10
Infants' Mylicon® Gas Relief Dye Free Non-Staining Drops 1 oz.

71683791111-1
Lot SMF008
Exp 09/10
Infants' Mylicon® Gas Relief Dye Free Non-Staining Drops 1 oz.

Consumers can find the lot numbers on the bottom of the box containing the product and also on the lower left side of the sticker on the product bottle.

Consumers who purchased Infants' MYLICON® GAS RELIEF DYE FREE drops non-staining included in this recall should immediately stop using the product and contact the company at 1-800-222-9435 (Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. EST) or via the internet at www.mylicon.com for instructions regarding how to dispose of the product and request a replacement or refund.

Infants' MYLICON® drops are sold over-the counter, in retail stores and pharmacies, as an anti-gas medicine to relieve the discomfort of infant gas frequently caused by air swallowing or by certain formulas or foods.

The recall does not affect any Original Infants' MYLICON® GAS RELIEF products (1/2 oz. or 1 oz. size) or Infants' MYLICON® GAS RELIEF DYE FREE drops non-staining (1/2 oz. size).

The manufacturer has instructed retailers and wholesalers to return their inventories.

Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of this product may be reported to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

Online: www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm
Regular Mail: Use postage-paid FDA form 3500 available at:
www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm.
Mail to MedWatch 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787
Fax: 1-800-FDA-0178

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Nestlé Withdraws Nestlé Farinha Lactea Cereal in the United States

Nestlé is withdrawing Nestlé Farinha Lactea cereal in the United States. Nestlé is taking this action as we have learned that the product may contain residual traces of a pesticide not currently approved for use on wheat in the U.S. While the pesticide is approved for use in Brazil and the noted levels are well below Brazilian standards, it is not used on wheat products in the United States and therefore there is no set standard for its presence in cereal. The pesticide is permitted in the United States on grain crops other than wheat.

Nestlé Farinha Lactea cereal is manufactured in Brazil by Nestlé Brazil and sold primarily in Portuguese language communities in the United States. The withdrawal applies to all sizes, varieties and production codes of the product. No other Nestlé products are affected.

Nestlé USA is assisting with the withdrawal of this product from the U.S. market to ensure the continued quality and safety of Nestlé products. Nestlé has not received any illness reports or consumer complaints.

Consumers who have purchased Nestlé Farinha Lactea cereal should not consume the product, and should return it to the store where they purchased it for a full refund.

We encourage consumers with questions about the withdrawal to contact Nestlé Consumer Services at (800) 628-7679.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

FDA Seizes Contaminated Heparin from a Cincinnati Manufacturer

TT Note: And still the contaminated products from China show up in America.

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ongoing efforts to ensure that heparin for patients remains safe, the government today seized 11 lots of heparin from Celsus Laboratories Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The five lots of Heparin Sodium Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) and six lots of Heparin Lithium were seized at the FDA's request by U.S. Marshals. These products, which were manufactured from material imported from China, had been found by the agency to be contaminated with over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS), a substance that mimics heparin's anticoagulant activity.

“This action will help prevent this contaminated heparin from finding its way into the marketplace," said Mike Chappell, acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, FDA.

Heparin is a blood-thinning drug. An API is a substance or mixture of substances that, when delivered in a finished drug product, directly affects the structure or function of the body. Heparin Sodium USP is an API that may be incorporated into finished drug products. Heparin Lithium is used in certain medical devices including vacutainer blood collection tubes, some in vitro diagnostic assays, and as a coating for capillary tubes. Celsus has distributed Heparin Sodium USP and Heparin Lithium to manufacturers in both the United States and abroad.

OSCS contaminant in injectable drug products containing heparin has been linked to multiple adverse events and deaths initially reported to the FDA in January 2008. Since then, the FDA has put in place a comprehensive inspection and import controls program and has acted to remove from the market heparin materials and products contaminated with OSCS. The seized Celsus heparin – which had entered the United States before the establishment of import controls for the drug – was tested for the presence of OSCS as part of this FDA effort.

To date, the agency has initiated 13 recalls of multiple contaminated medical products containing heparin from several companies.

The FDA informed Celsus Laboratories during an April 2008 inspection and again in a May 8, 2008, letter that the company's actions to notify customers about a contaminant in its heparin were insufficient to assure an effective recall. The agency advises manufacturers who may have purchased heparin from Celsus to contact the company to make certain they are not using any heparin from the seized lots because the product does not meet acceptable quality standards.

The FDA has notified Japanese, Canadian, Australian, European Union, and other international authorities of shipments of contaminated heparin from Celsus.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Plantation Pipe Line Will Pay Penalty for Fuel Spills in Va., N.C., Ga.

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Plantation Pipe Line Company, Alpharetta, Ga., has agreed to pay a civil penalty and implement safeguards in order to resolve a Clean Water Act lawsuit over fuel pipeline spills in three states, the Justice Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state of North Carolina announced.

The company has agreed to pay a $725,000 penalty for discharges of jet fuel and gasoline in Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina, and for inadequate spill prevention safeguards at a Virginia facility. The company also has agreed to implement $1.3 million in new spill prevention safeguards.

"Companies like Plantation Pipe Line that operate oil production infrastructure have a responsibility to ensure the safety and integrity of their operations," said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We continue to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce this nation's environmental laws."

"Federal oil pollution prevention requirements, along with regular pipeline upgrades, are designed to prevent the kinds of oil spills that have occurred on Plantation's pipeline system," said Donald Welsh, administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic region. "The pipeline upgrades required in this settlement will help protect the environment by preventing future spills."

"Oil spills can cause significant harm to the environment," said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. "EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risk to our water and sensitive ecosystems."

The lawsuit cited Plantation for four separate fuel spills from 2000 to 2006, totaling 1,005 barrels (or 42,210 gallons):

-- On Nov. 27, 2006, at least 97 barrels of gasoline leaked from a
Plantation pipeline in Mecklenburg County, N.C., some flowing into Paw
Creek.
-- On Feb. 22, 2003, at least 788 barrels of gasoline spilled from a
pipeline in Hull, Ga., some entering a tributary of East Sandy Creek.
-- On Mar. 13, 2002, at least 20 barrels of jet fuel were discharged from
a pipeline in Alexandria, Va., some flowing to a tributary of Hooff
Run.
-- On Jan. 10, 2000, at least 100 barrels of jet fuel leaked from a
pipeline in Newington, Va., some of which spilled into Accotink Creek.


The lawsuit also cited Plantation Pipe Line for failing to prepare and implement a required spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan for a 420,000-gallon oil storage tank at its Newington, Va., facility.

The settlement requires Plantation to pay a $715,000 penalty to the federal government's Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and $10,000 to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In addition, the company will implement $1.3 million in spill prevention safeguards, including upgrades to pipelines and excavating buried valves to improve regular inspection capabilities.

The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of oil into waterways and coastal areas in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. Oil spills threaten both fresh water and marine environments, harming plant and animal life through physical damage and the toxicity of the oil itself, which may poison exposed organisms. For more information on the effects and cleanups of oil spills, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill.

The proposed consent decree, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of EPA and North Carolina, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Everlasting Distributors Inc. Issues a Nationwide Recall of Fresh and Crispy Jacobina Biscuits Because of Possible Health Risks

TT Note: Oops- here comes another one.

Everlasting Distributors Inc., Bayonne NJ is initiating a nationwide recall of all their 3.88oz (110gm) packages of Fresh and Crispy Jacobina Biscuits because it may be contaminated with Melamine.

Consumers who have the product which is being recalled should stop using it immediately. If consumers have questions about possible health risks, they should contact their doctor.

Product was distributed nationwide in Asian Grocery stores.

The product comes in 3.88oz (110 gm) blue and red color clear plastic package, labeled “JACOBINA”.

No illnesses associated with this product have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after FDA testing discovered that product was found to contain Melamine. Consumers who have purchased Fresh and Crispy Jacobina Biscuits are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 201-823-0800, Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00, Eastern Standard Time.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Consumers Becoming Increasingly Less Tolerant of Recalls, Demanding More Control Over Information


TT Note: There are so many recalls in our markets. Have you ever stopped to see the country who appears to be the major manufacturer of the suspect items? Take a moment and go to the Fayette Front Page "Recall Roundup." We bring you all the recalls we can find on a daily basis. Be an informed consumer!

PRNewswire/ -- The buying habits of consumers change dramatically and cost companies millions when product safety and quality issues arise, according to a new study released today by Deloitte.

More than half of consumers responding (58 percent) who heard about product safety and/or quality problems changed their buying habits, according to the survey. These consumers turned away from such products for more than nine months, on average, increasing the likelihood that they would discontinue the use of the product or brand entirely.

"Our research shows that consumers are becoming less tolerant of recalls with more than 50 percent changing their product choices," said Pat Conroy, Deloitte LLP's vice chairman and consumer products practice leader. "As these consumers continue to buy different products, product manufacturers can expect lower sales and run the risk of damage to their brands."

The survey, "Food and Product Safety and Its Effect on Consumer Buying Habits," addresses consumer behavior around product safety and product quality issues in general. Specifically, it focuses on key issues in four product categories:

-- Toys
-- Consumer electronics
-- Fresh food
-- Packaged food/beverages


Of these categories, changes in buying habits were most common for fresh food and packaged food/beverage. Roughly half (49 percent) of respondents said they were extremely concerned about product safety, with the greatest concerns coming from women (53 percent) and consumers 55 years of age and older (56 percent). All in all, there is a wide awareness about product safety and quality problems, and more than half of respondents (54 percent) said they were more concerned about the safety of fresh food products than they were a year ago.

Global Concerns

The global lines that were once drawn have now begun to blur and corporate globalization has created "businesses without borders." However, though globalization is an increasingly valuable part of doing business, roughly two-thirds of consumers surveyed (65 percent) were extremely concerned about the safety of products produced outside the United States, with the greatest apprehension coming from older consumers.

Approximately three-quarters of the overall respondents (73 percent) were extremely concerned about the safety of products produced in China, with half having the same doubts about products produced in Southeast Asia and Mexico.

As products fall under greater scrutiny, consumers surveyed indicated they would like more information about the safety of food products provided on packaging (86 percent), company Websites (81 percent) and by the government (81 percent). Some 67 percent said that food product labels with country of origin labeling, certification of product testing and certification of quality testing would be extremely important in their buying decisions.

"Consumers' increased sensitivity of product safety and quality is having a long-term effect on business," said Conroy. "Product recalls impact companies' revenues and share price, as well as market share and brand perception. We've seen that, while some companies can maneuver through recalls relatively unscathed, others suffer catastrophic damage."

The research shows that some of the key factors that drive the extent of a product recall impact ranges from the extent of the company's product diversification, if the recall is specifically for a branded product, strength of the company's brand when the incident occurred and how the company responds.

"Companies are meeting consumers' concerns by upgrading or expanding safety procedures including stricter safety standards, testing and third-party audits and government intervention is driving change," said Conroy. "The recent granting of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to initiate product recalls and monitor ingredient levels such as lead allowed in toys and other children's products, is a very timely and relevant example of changes being made all with consumer safety and peace-of-mind at the top of the agenda."

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Statement Released by Mars Petcare US Regarding the Voluntary Recall of a Limited Number of Bags of Wal-Mart SPECIAL KITTY(R) Gourmet Blend Cat Food

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Even though there is no link between the SPECIAL KITTY(R) Gourmet Blend dry cat food manufactured at the Allentown, Pennsylvania factory and any human or pet illness, we are taking precautionary action to protect pets and their owners by announcing a voluntary recall of all sizes of SPECIAL KITTY(R) Gourmet Blend produced at the facility on August 11, 2008. This action is being taken as a result of potential Salmonella contamination.

This voluntary recall affects only a limited number of bags of SPECIAL KITTY(R) Gourmet Blend dry cat food sold at Wal-Mart locations in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Mars Petcare has been working cooperatively with Wal-Mart to address this issue, and the affected product of this lot has already been removed from Wal-Mart's shelves. As a result, consumers can be assured that all SPECIAL KITTY(R) Gourmet Blend products that remain on Wal-Mart's shelves are safe and not subject to this recall.

Our top priority has always been and continues to be the health and welfare of pets and their owners, and we are working vigorously to identify the cause of the issue.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

CPSC and Carter's Advise Parents of Rashes Associated with Heat Transferred, or "Tag-less," Labels

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Carter's, Inc., of Atlanta, Georgia, are advising parents and caregivers that they have received reports that a small percentage of babies and infants have developed rashes on the upper back after wearing Carter's clothing with heat-transferred, or "tag-less," labels.

This advisory applies to Carter's Fall 2007 product line. The Fall 2007 line utilizes a label on the inside back of the garment that has a raised surface with a solid, rather than a stenciled, background. This advisory does not apply to previous and current product lines, which utilize labels with stenciled backgrounds.

The garments, which were made in various countries, were sold at Carter's own retail stores and at department and national chain stores.

If your child develops a rash on the upper back after wearing garments that have a "tag-less" label with a solid background, you should stop using these garments. If the rash persists or worsens, you should contact your pediatrician. For additional information, visit Carter's website at http://www.carters.com/corporate/tagless_message.aspx, contact Carter's toll free at 1-888-282-4674 or by email at contactus@carters.com

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Monday, October 06, 2008

FDA Detects Melamine Contamination in Flavored Drink

TT Note: And they just keep on coming-----

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has increased inspections and product testing efforts in response to the melamine contamination problem which originated in Chinese dairy products. As a result of the FDA’s on-going testing program, the agency has detected melamine contamination in Blue Cat Flavor Drinks. The distributor of the product, Tristar Food Wholesale Co. Inc., initiated a recall of several flavors of Blue Cat Flavor Drink, based on the FDA’s findings. The FDA advises the public not to consume this product and recommends that retailers and food service operators remove the product from sale or service.
Other Recalls

On September 26, the FDA issued an alert to consumers that seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products were being recalled by the Taiwanese company, King Car Food Industrial Co. Ltd., due to possible contamination with melamine. King Car Food Industrial Co. used a non-dairy creamer manufactured by Shandong Duqing Inc., China, which was found to be contaminated with melamine. The recalled products are:

* Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
* Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
* Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
* Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
* Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
* Mr. Brown Mandhling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
* Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)

The FDA recommends that consumers not consume any of the above Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products. The FDA also recommends that retailers and foodservice operators remove the products from sale or service.

Sunny Maid Corp. Monterey Park, Calif., who is an importer and distributor of Mr. Brown Instant Coffee products, is recalling the products in the United States.

The FDA is working with regulatory agencies in the United States as well as with other countries. The California Department of Public Health and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority reported that its testing of White Rabbit Creamy Candies has shown melamine contamination at high levels. In light of the widespread contamination of milk and milk-based products in China and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s finding, the FDA continues to recommend that consumers not eat White Rabbit Creamy Candy and that retailers and foodservice operations remove the product from sale or service.

A recall by QFCO Inc., Burlingame, Calif., of the White Rabbit Creamy Candies, is underway in the United States.

The FDA is closely monitoring these recalls and will continue to perform follow up activities of other recalls that may develop.

To date, the FDA is not aware of any illnesses in the United States stemming from consumption of Blue Cat Flavor Drinks, White Rabbit Creamy Candy, or the Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products.

Individuals who have experienced any health problems after consuming Blue Cat Flavor Drinks, White Rabbit Creamy Candy, or any of the identified Mr. Brown coffee and tea products are advised to contact their health care professional.
Background

On September 12, 2008, in light of reports from China of melamine contaminated infant formula, the FDA issued a Health Information Advisory to assure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell such products in the United States. That advisory also warned members of Chinese communities in the United States that infant formula manufactured in China, possibly available for purchase at Asian markets, could pose a risk to infants.

The FDA had contacted the companies who manufacture infant formula for distribution in the United States and received, from the companies, information that they are not importing formula or sourcing milk-based materials from China.

At the same time, the FDA—in conjunction with state and local officials—began a nation-wide investigation to check Asian markets for Chinese manufactured infant formula that may have been brought into the United States. In particular, this effort focused on areas of the country with large Chinese communities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. To date, investigators have visited more than 1,800 retail markets and have not found Chinese infant formula present on shelves in these markets.

The FDA also advises consumers not to purchase infant formula manufactured in China from Internet sites or from other sources.

The FDA has taken, and will continue to take, proactive measures to help ensure the safety of the American food supply. In conjunction with state and local officials, the FDA will continue to visit Asian markets for food items that are imported from China and that could contain a significant amount of milk or milk proteins. In addition, the FDA has broadened its domestic and import sampling and testing of milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk, such as candies, desserts, and beverages that could contain these ingredients from Chinese sources. Milk-derived ingredients include whole milk powder, non-fat milk powder, whey powder, lactose powder, and casein.

In addition to state and local governments, the FDA is working in close cooperation with Customs and Border Protection within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal agencies, and foreign governments.

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