Thursday, October 26, 2006


Australians travelling to the US can breathe easy. So can the 100,000 or so Australian expatriates living in America. The US Government today dismissed media reports it had banned Vegemite. "There is no ban on Vegemite," US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesman Mike Herndon said.

Media reports at the weekend claimed American border officials were confiscating Vegemite from Australians as they entered the US. The FDA, charged with policing America's food supply, has not issued an "import alert" to border officials to halt the import of Vegemite. Mr Herndon said the FDA was surprised by the media reports.

The controversy centres on folate, an ingredient in Vegemite. Under US regulations, folate can be added only to breads and cereals. "One of the Vitamin B components (in Vegemite) is folate," Mr Herndon said. "In and of itself, it's not a violation. If they're adding folate to it, boosting it up, technically it would be a violation. "But the FDA has not targeted it and I don't think we intend to target Vegemite simply because of that."

Joanna Scott, spokesperson for Vegemite's maker, Kraft, reportedly has said, "The Food and Drug Administration doesn't allow the import of Vegemite simply because the recipe does have the addition of folic acid". But Mr Herndon said, "Nobody at the FDA has told them (Kraft) there is a ban". To eradicate any grey areas or potential regulation breaches, Mr Herndon said, Kraft could petition the FDA, something other food manufacturers have done.

While many Aussies living in the US rely on visiting Australian relatives and friends to bring them a jar or two of Vegemite from Australia, the product is available in some US supermarkets. The price slapped on Vegemite, however, is tough to swallow. A tiny, four ounce jar of Vegemite sells for around $US4.80 ($6.33) in US supermarkets.


Lack of sunlight causes asthma?

That does fit with the apparent upsurge in asthma in recent years

Sunshine could be a saviour for asthma sufferers, according to world-first Australian research suggesting rays can relieve symptoms. But the team at Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research warns against sunbaking to reap the benefits before a safer therapy is developed.

Scientists used mice to test the effects of ultraviolet light on the development of asthma-type signs such as inflamed airways and lungs. Preliminary results show that if the animals had a 15 to 30-minute dose of light before being exposed to a common allergen, their chance of developing symptoms was "significantly reduced". Research leader Professor Prue Hart said UV exposure produced a cell type in a mouse that, when transferred into other mice, suppressed the immune reaction and halted symptoms. She said the research was the first to prove sunlight was among the environmental and genetic factors that influenced the disease.



Beer-loving blokes of the world, rejoice - three pots a day could put you at far less risk of a heart attack than staying teetotal. A new study, confirming what many experts have been telling us for years, suggests that not only is a daily tipple good for the heart but abstinence could be harmful to your health. The American survey charting the health of nearly 9000 men over 16 years revealed that risk of heart attacks was lowest among healthy men who drank moderately - up to three drinks a day. A standard drink is measured as a pot of full-strength beer, a stubby of medium-strength beer or a spirit nip.

Published today in Archives of Internal Medicine, the study showed that of the 106 men who had heart attacks, eight consumed 1.5 to three standard drinks a day compared with 28 who drank no alcohol. All men in the study - conducted by doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston - were between the age of 40 and 75, took regular exercise, did not smoke and had a balanced, nutritious diet.

The results show that those who drank no or very limited amounts of alcohol were more likely to suffer heart problems - 34 men who drank half a standard drink or less suffered heart attacks and 27 who drank between half and 1® were afflicted. Only nine men who drank more than three drinks had heart attacks. Researchers believe the results can be explained by increased levels of "good" cholesterol in the blood.

VicHealth chief executive Rob Moodie said the results should be viewed with caution. "Socially and from a health point of view moderate drinking in this case looks to be beneficial but the problem is over-consumption," he said. "Managing it socially and in moderation is great, but drawing the line between the two is the big issue and as a society we're not doing that at all well because year on year we're seeing rises in binge drinking."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].


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