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Health Headlines - April 12

Posted Apr 11 2009 11:41pm
Happy Easter!

Sprouts Recalled After Positive Test for Listeria: Report

Sprouts processed by a Connecticut-based company have been recalled after a sample in New York City tested positive for the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in vulnerable people, the Hartford Courant reported Friday.

The sprouts, from Bridgeport's Amalgamated Produce Inc., were sold at Stop & Shop, ShopRite and Price Chopper stores in Connecticut, the newspaper said. As of Thursday, no illnesses had been reported in the state, the Courant said.

Sold under various brand names, the sprouts have a "sell by" date of March 31 through April 27, and are packaged in 4-ounce plastic containers, the Courant reported. Also recalled were 8-ounce Nature's Promise organic alfalfa sprouts and 5-pound bags of alfalfa sprouts, the newspaper said.

Consumers who bought the sprouts should discard the packages or return them to the place of purchase for a refund, Connecticut Commissioner of Consumer Protection Jerry Farrell Jr. told the Courant.

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Boston Hospital Performs U.S.'s 2nd Partial-Face Transplant

Surgeons at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital performed the nation's 2nd partial-face transplant, a 17-hour operation to replace a man's nose, palate, upper lip, some skin, muscles and nerves, after a freak accident had disfigured him, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Hospital spokesman Kevin Myron said the man's injuries occurred several years ago and left him with difficulty speaking, eating and drinking. The skin and organs came from a donor who had agreed to help other patients as well, according to the AP.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, who led the surgical team, said the man had "no teeth, no palate, no nose, no lip," according to the AP. The transplant recipient, whose name was not released, was still recovering Friday. The donor's name was also withheld.

The first face transplant in the United States was done at the Cleveland Clinic in December when doctors replaced 80 percent of a woman's face, the AP reported.

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FDA Halts 2 Firms From Marketing Unapproved Cold Medications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration secured a court order barring a New Jersey pharmaceutical company from distributing more than 50 unapproved cough and cold medicines, the Associated Press reported Friday.

East Windsor, N.J.-based Advent Pharmaceuticals continued to market the unapproved products despite prior warnings, and failed to correct manufacturing problems identified by FDA inspectors, the AP said. Advent products and those from its subsidiary, Neilgen Pharmaceuticals, covered in the order include BP Allergy Junior Suspension, RE All 12 Suspension, and many others, the AP reported. Neilgen, based in Westminster, Md., also does business as Unigen Pharmaceuticals, the FDA said.

Consumers were urged to discontinue use of the products and to consult with a physician for alternatives. Company officials did not immediately respond to calls for comment Friday afternoon, the AP said.

A complete list of the unapproved cold medications is available on the FDA Web site at www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2009/NEW01995.html.

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Ethanol Raises Cost of Food Aid for Needy: Report

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report says that increased use of the corn-based fuel additive ethanol may cost the government up to $900 million for food stamps and child nutrition programs, the Associated Press reports.

Higher use of ethanol accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008, according to the report. Economists estimated that increased costs for food programs overall will be about $5.3 billion in the current budget year, the AP said. Demand for ethanol was one factor that boosted corn prices, which led to higher animal feed and ingredient costs for farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers that is eventually passed on to consumers, the report said.

Groups opposed to a higher cap for the amounts of ethanol blended in gasoline production released a statement Thursday opposing tax breaks for the fuel. These groups included the Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Meat Institute, National Turkey Federation and National Council of Chain Restaurants.

"As startling as these figures are, they do not even tell the story of the toll higher food prices have taken on working families, nor the impact higher feed prices have had on farmers in animal agriculture who have seen staggering losses and job cuts and liquidation of livestock herds," the statement said.

But Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol industry group, told AP, "The impact of ethanol production on food prices is minimal," citing energy costs in general as responsible for the rise in food prices. Ethanol producers last month asked the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline from the current maximum of 10 percent to 15 percent, saying it could create thousands of new jobs, according to the AP.

The EPA has yet to decide on raising the ethanol cap, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said the administration could move quickly to raise it to 12 percent or 13 percent, the AP reported.

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