Thursday, June 26, 2008

Student "Ambassador" Dies Neglected & Alone

A Minnesota family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a company that offers educational trips for students -- and claims to have ties to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower -- in connection with last summer’s death of their teenage son.

The lawsuit filed against People to People Student Ambassador Programs alleges the travel organization and its representatives refused to get 16-year-old Tyler Hill the medical attention he requested after climbing Mount Fuji....

Read the story.

By Lisa Wade McCormick

"Copyright (c) 2008 Inc. All Rights Reserved"
Printed with permission

Monday, June 23, 2008

Coming Soon: Generic Drugs from China

TT Note: Say it ain't so. Yet again, China appears to be on the brink of exporting more into the country and this time, it's something that could really hurt or kill us. With all the safety issues with all of the recalls, do you want to trust they will make drugs safe? Here's the full story from Consumer Affairs.

If you liked the heparin, dog food, lead-painted toys, toothpaste and truck tires from China, you'll be happy to hear that Chinese-made generic drugs are making their way to the U.S. While the development raises some safety concerns....

Read the story.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

World Population Approaches 7 Billion

TT Note: Is it getting crowded around here? Where can all these people go? These numbers just boggle the mind.

World population is projected to reach 7 billion in 2012, according to
the U.S. Census Bureau. The world population hit 6 billion in 1999.

These figures come from the updated world population estimates and
projections released today through the Census Bureau’s International Data
Base (IDB). The IDB provides information on population size and growth, age
and sex composition, mortality, fertility and net migration. The data are
available for 226 countries and other selected geographies.

This revision to the IDB includes updated projections for 34 countries.
Compared to previous estimates, this revision indicates that the world
population will be 146 million larger in 2050.

The Census Bureau’s latest projections show world population growing
at a slower pace during the first half of the 21st century than the latter
half of the 20th century. The world population doubled from 3 billion in
1959 to 6 billion in 1999, but is projected to increase by only 50 percent
between 1999 and 2040.

Global population growth, about 1.2 percent per year, is projected to
decline to 0.5 percent by 2050. However, this growth will be concentrated
in less-developed countries.

About 1.5 percent of the current global population is 80 or older, with
more than half living in developed countries. By 2050, about 5 percent of
the world’s population is projected to be 80 or older, with about three in
four likely to be living in less-developed countries. For developed
countries, the percentage of the population 80 or older will grow to about
10 percent in 2050.

World population estimates and projections include the impact of HIV and
AIDS. Of the 34 countries updated in this revision, nine are hard hit by
this pandemic (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast], Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Guinea, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic).
Data for other countries seriously affected by HIV and AIDS are also
available from the International Data Base.

The International Data Base offers online users a choice of ways to
retrieve demographic data, including:

· Country summary pages showing key population indicators <>

· Tables of demographic indicators for countries and regions <>

· Population pyramids showing age and sex composition <>.

For more information about this update, including the list of updated
countries, visit

Friday, June 13, 2008

Throwing Those Tomatoes In My Face

Gotta tell you. I'm shocked. That's all there is to it.

I visited a restaurant today in Tyrone and was served a tomato. Was it a cherry or a grape? Nope. It was a big old hunking slice of red tomato.

Now, with all the news and all the headlines, haven't the owners noticed there's a nationwide recall? I had to ask them.

"Where are these tomatoes from?"

"The box said Florida."

"Ok. When did you get them?"

"We buy them at the farmer's market."

What was wrong with that statement? It was only yesterday that some counties in Florida were approved to start shipping them again. How does the restaurant know they were shipped after being approved? How does the restaurant know they were from Florida? I mean, anyone could throw a bunch of tomatoes they wanted to sell into an old box.

Me thinks the restaurant doesn't know. Me thinks they don't read the news. Me thinks I won't be eating there soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Florida Counties Poised to Begin Shipping Tomatoes Again After Being Added to FDA’s “Safe to Eat” List

BUSINESS WIRE -- Floridas tomato growers enthusiastically welcomed the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations announcement that consumers are clear to eat tomatoes harvested in 19 Florida counties. The counties encompass the Ruskin-Palmetto and Quincy areas of the state, Floridas prime tomato-producing regions.

The FDA said the following counties are not associated with the outbreak of Salmonella saintpaul: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, Desoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando and Charlotte.

This allows us to get Florida tomatoes back into supermarkets and restaurants and to move forward in rebuilding consumer confidence in safe, healthy produce, said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. Our growers are working overtime to get their products back into the marketplace.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the FDA to get the counties added to the safe to eat list. Growers will provide a certificate issued by the state with each shipment of tomatoes verifying they were harvested after May 1. The Tomato Growers Exchange urges restaurants and supermarkets to contact their shippers for more information.

The losses already incurred by the states tomato industry during the outbreak are major. Growers estimate that ultimately the economic impact will be more than $500 million.

Until now, the market has been in complete collapse. Crops have remained in fields, packinghouses and in the distribution system, Brown said. The losses are staggering.

No illnesses linked to Salmonella saintpaul have been reported in the Southeast, a primary destination for Florida tomatoes this time of year. Its unfortunate that anyone has become ill. However, weve had confidence in our tomatoes all along we just had to wait for FDA and the CDC to do their trace-back work, Brown said.

The Florida tomato industry remains committed to the production of a safe product. Florida is the first state in the country to adopt a comprehensive food safety program with mandatory government inspection and audit of its tomatoes. Those involved in the growing and marketing of fresh tomatoes voluntarily incorporate food safety as part of their everyday business practices, he said. Were committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure consumer confidence in our crops.

Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Commissaries Pull Some Tomatoes From Shelves

Defense Commissary Agency officials have pulled some kinds of tomatoes off the shelves of military commissary stores -- except those in Europe -- after the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that a recent salmonella outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw red tomatoes.

Commissaries outside Europe have stopped selling raw red plum, Roma, or round red tomatoes unless they originate from an "approved area," according to a notice posted on the agency's Web site. Approved areas are those not implicated in the recent Salmonella "serotype Saintpaul" outbreak, the notice said.

No sales restrictions have been placed on cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or tomatoes sold with the vine still attached. According to the FDA, those types are not likely to be the source of the outbreak.

Armed Forces Press Service

Saturday, June 07, 2008

FDA Warns Consumers Nationwide Not to Eat Certain Types of Raw Red Tomatoes

TT Note: We've been following this story for several days and have been watching as the health threat grows. This is the latest information released late this afternoon.

The Food and Drug Administration is expanding its warning to consumers nationwide that a salmonellosis outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes, and products containing these raw, red tomatoes.

FDA recommends that consumers not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless the tomatoes are from the sources listed below. If unsure of where tomatoes are grown or harvested, consumers are encouraged to contact the store where the tomato purchase was made. Consumers should continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home.

On June 5, using traceback and other distribution pattern information, FDA published a list of states, territories, and countries where tomatoes are grown and harvested which have not been associated with this outbreak. This updated list includes: Arkansas, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico. The list is available at This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

FDA’s recommendation does not apply to the following tomatoes from any source: cherry, grape, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached.

FDA recommends that retailers, restaurateurs, and food service operators not offer for sale and service raw red Roma, raw red plum, and raw red round tomatoes unless they are from the sources listed above. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, may continue to be offered from any source.

Since mid April, there have been 145 reported cases of salmonellosis caused by Salmonella Saintpaul nationwide, including at least 23 hospitalizations. States reporting illnesses linked to the outbreak include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Salmonella Saintpaul is an uncommon type of Salmonella.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections particularly in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, the organism can get into the bloodstream and produce more severe illnesses. Consumers who have recently eaten raw tomatoes or foods containing raw tomatoes and are experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their health care provider. All Salmonella infections should be reported to state or local health authorities.

FDA recognizes that the source of the contaminated tomatoes may be limited to a single grower or packer or tomatoes from a specific geographic area. FDA also recognizes that there are many tomato crops across the country and in foreign countries that will be ready for harvest or will become ready in the coming months. In order to ensure that consumers can continue to enjoy tomatoes that are safe to eat, FDA is working diligently with the states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, and various food industry trade associations to quickly determine the source of the tomatoes associated with the outbreak.

FDA is taking these actions while the agency continues to investigate this outbreak with state and federal partners. Such actions are a key component of FDA’s Food Protection Plan, a scientific and risk-based approach to strengthen and protect the nation’s food supply.

FDA will continue to issue updates as more specific information becomes available.


Fayette Front Page

Marler Clark: A Long History of Tomatoes and Salmonella

BUSINESS WIRE--The CDC, public health officials in several states, the Indian Health Service, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working together on an ongoing multi-state outbreak of human salmonella serotype saintpaul infections linked to the consumption of tomatoes. According to food borne illness attorney William Marler, this isnt the first time tomatoes are the source of salmonella infections.

Salmonella and tomatoes have an ongoing relationship, Marler said. Sadly, its a long list of outbreaks. Weve gotten better at tracing the serotypes and finding the source of the tainted food, but we have to do more: we have to prevent contaminated food from entering the food supply in the first place.

In 1990, a reported 174 salmonella javiana illnesses were linked to raw tomatoes as part of a four-state outbreak. In 1993, 84 reported cases of salmonella montevideo were part of a three-state outbreak. In January 1999, salmonella baildon was recovered from 86 infected persons in eight states. In July 2002, an outbreak of salmonella javiana occurred associated with attendance at the 2002 U.S. Transplant Games held in Orlando, Florida during late June of that year. Ultimately, the outbreak investigation identified 141 ill persons in 32 states who attended the games. All were linked to consumption of raw tomatoes.

During August and September 2002, a salmonella newport outbreak affected the East Coast. Ultimately, over 404 confirmed cases were identified in over 22 states. Epidemiological analysis indicated that tomatoes were the most likely vehicle, and were traced back to the same tomato packing facility in the mid-Atlantic region.

In early July 2004, as many as 564 confirmed cases of salmonellosis associated with consumption of contaminated tomatoes purchased at Sheetz Convenience Store were reported in five states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. Seventy percent were associated with tomatoes in food prepared at Sheetz convenience stores. In 2006 two outbreaks of salmonella-tainted tomatoes where reported by the FDA. One was blamed for nearly 100 illnesses in 19 states. FDA also traced tomatoes involved in another outbreak involving 183 people in 21 states.

Since late April, 2008, 68 persons infected with genetically identical salmonella saintpaul have been identified in Texas (35 persons) and New Mexico (33 persons). In addition, 29 persons with the outbreak strain of salmonella saintpaul have been reported since mid-April in residents of Arizona (6 persons), Colorado (1), Idaho (2), Illinois (12), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Utah (1), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (2).

UGA Given $4.1 Million to Study Disappearing Bees

Almost half the bee colonies in the United States died last winter. Many were the result of a disorder that causes the colony to literally collapse. Using a $4.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists at the University of Georgia hope to find solutions to the problem that is killing bees in 36 states.

“Our long-term goal is to restore large and diverse populations of managed bee pollinators across the U.S. to sustain natural and agricultural plant communities,” said Keith Delaplane, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Delaplane will direct the four-year Coordinated Agriculture Project (CAP) that is part of a National Research Initiative funded through the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers and extension specialists representing 17 states will be working on the project. The 19-member team will include specialists in epidemiology, virology, pathology, ecology, toxicology, bee biology, apiculture and integrated pest management.

The team will study colony collapse disorder. First identified in November 2006, CCD expresses itself in bee colonies where foragers have abandoned the nest. This leaves behind large quantities of untended young bees and honey.

Normally, weakened colonies are robbed clean by neighboring bees. When a colony is decimated by CCD the untended honey may remain untouched.

Scientists believe a combination of factors contribute to the phenomenon including pesticide exposure, environmental and nutritional stresses, new or reemerging pathogens and a new virus that targets the bees' immune systems.

“At this point it’s more forensic science than experimental science,” Delaplane said. “We have a set of symptoms but we don’t understand cause and effect.”

Initial research will focus on determining which of the factors are contributing causes of CCD, either individually or in combination.

“We are trying to look at CCD from every angle, address it with research and deliver the knowledge to clientele groups who need answers,” he said. “Expectations are high.”

After research is complete, the research team hopes to have some practical answers for beekeepers and growers of crops that rely on bees for pollination. Plans include developing best management practice guides, breeding strains of bees with genetic resistance to parasites and pathogens, improving the regulatory framework for better protection against pathogens, pests and parasites and creating Web-based distribution of science-based information on bee health and CCD. They are also laying the groundwork for a bee stock registry.

Honeybees pollinate about a third of the nation’s food supply and add $15 billion annually to U.S. crops. They pollinate 130 different fruits, vegetables and nuts including almonds, apples, avocados, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, cherries, cucumbers, onions, peaches and soybeans.

Although they are an essential part of crop production, the impact of the honeybee pollination on human beings is not a matter of life or death, Delaplane said.

“More human calories are supplied by wind-pollinated cereals like wheat and rice,” he said. “However, when economies improve we see an increase in the consumption of meat and dairy products and bee-pollinated fruits like melons and berries.”

A comparative example is the difference in U.S. diets and those in countries like Sudan, he said. “That difference is largely explained by bee-pollinated crops,” he said.

While there are other bee pollinators, honeybees are the most prolific and easiest to manage for the large scale pollination the agriculture industry requires. In California, the almond crop alone needs 1.3 million bee colonies, about half of all honey bees in the country.

The number of managed bee colonies has dropped from five million in the 1940s to half that number today. To meet demand, commercial beekeepers truck bees to provide pollination services.

In addition to UGA, the institutions participating in the grant project are Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, Illinois Natural History Survey, North Carolina State University, Kentucky State University, Michigan State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, University of California-Riverside, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, University of Tennessee, USDA ARS Weslaco, Texas and Washington State University.

by April Sorrow
University of Georgia

April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.