General Health

Study: High Fructose Corn Syrup’s Role in Autism

candy_vendor_attPhoto via flickr user anyjazz65A new study details the role of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the growing autism epidemic. Published this week in the journal Clinical Epigenetics, the study was spearheaded by GAP client and FDA whistleblower Renee Dufault, who has been raising HFCS concerns for years.

According to the article, "the number of children ages 6 to 21 in the U.S. receiving special education services under the autism disability category increased 91% between 2005 and 2010." A comparison between Americans (who eat on average 35.7 pounds of HFCS per year) and Italians (who rarely consume it) suggests the increase in autism in the U.S. "is not related to mercury exposure from fish, coal-fired power plants, thimerosal, or dental amalgam but instead to the consumption of HFCS."

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Court Orders FDA to Act on Antibiotic Use in Animal Agriculture

cow_feedGreat news! A federal court ruled Thursday that FDA must finally stop lagging when it comes to regulating the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals and follow through on its 1977 proposal to ban the non-therapeutic use of two common antibiotics in animal feed, unless the makers of the drugs can prove their safety.

Yes, the FDA proposal was in limbo for three-and-a-half decades until the agency quietly abandoned it in December 2011, only to limit use of a less common antibiotic in January.

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Win for Farmworkers! Toxic Strawberry Pesticide Methyl Iodide Taken Off Market

strawberry_attPhoto via wikimedia user Hannah 50More than a year after a lawsuit challenging the approval of methyl iodide in California was brought to court, the maker of the controversial strawberry pesticide suddenly dropped the product from the U.S. market. This week's announcement by chemical giant Arysta is a welcoming turn of events for the farmworkers, scientists and environmental watchdogs whose voices have been repeatedly ignored – despite claims of human health effects including cancer, brain damage and miscarriages among those who come into frequent contact with methyl iodide.

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Tainted Chicken Link to UTI Adds to Need for Better Oversight

chicken_hen_attPhoto via wikimedia user ThegreenjAs if we needed another reason to improve poultry safety oversight. According to a study published Wednesday, contaminated chicken is a likely cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs). After researchers showed in 2010 that the most common cause of infections – E. coli – could originate in food, scientists in Canada tested meat products for a potential link.

From the Los Angeles Times:

[The scientists] found that the bacteria from beef and pork were far less likely to be genetically related to human urinary tract infection bacteria strains than chicken, which were closely related.

Proper kitchen handling and cooking of chicken can reduce the chances of E. coli infection. But, Manges said: "the many examples of foodborne outbreaks that occur regularly makes it clear that we still have problems with food safety."

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Jimmy John's Franchise Owners Face Trial After Firing Sick-Day Organizers

JimmyJohns_attPhoto via wikimedia user WpktsfsIt doesn't seem like the Jimmy John's sandwich chain can escape negative publicity this week. Once again, its raw sprouts have been linked to a foodborne illness outbreak (despite switching from alfalfa to clover sprouts after a Salmonella outbreak a year ago), sickening 12 people in five states with E. coli this time. On top of that, two franchise owners went to trial on Tuesday and Wednesday before the National Labor Relations Board for firing six Jimmy John's workers who publicized company policies that allegedly force employees to work while sick – putting public health at risk.

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USDA Organic Program Accused of Corruption

usda_organicDoes the organic label mean anything? According to the Cornucopia Institute -- an organic industry research and watchdog organization -- there are illegal synthetic chemicals in some products labeled organic, thanks to corruption in the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP). The group announced yesterday it has requested the department's Office of Inspector General to investigate what seems to be a long-standing controversy.

Heard of DHA and ARA (docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid)? These supplements -- added to milk (including Dean Foods' Horizon), infant formula and other organic foods -- are derived from oils processed with synthetic petrochemical solvents like hexane and isopropyl alcohol, which Cornucopia's Farm and Food Policy Director Charlotte Vallaeys said are "explicitly banned in organic production."

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Antibiotic Curtailed for Animals, But FDA Should Go Further

cephalosporinCore structure of the cephalosporin antibioticsThe FDA made a notable announcement yesterday related to combating the ongoing threat of human antibiotic resistance – increasingly linked to antibiotic overuse in food-producing animals.

The agency issued a new order limiting the use of cephalosporins, a class of antimicrobial drugs, given to cattle, swine and poultry. In order to reduce the presence of pathogens resistant to cephalosporin and maintain its effective use for treating pneumonia and other infections in humans, the FDA order prohibits unapproved uses of the drug -- including for disease prevention, rather than treatment once an animal is sick.

As pointed out by Food Safety News, cephalosporin-resistant bacteria could make it difficult to treat people sickened by contaminated food:

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