Monday, March 26, 2007

Fresh food now bad for you!

FRESH fruit, vegetables and salad sprouts are responsible for an increase in food poisoning caused by the potentially deadly salmonella and E-coli bacteria. There were 27 outbreaks of gastroenteritis between January 2001 and June 2005 across Australia due to fresh, uncooked produce including orange juice, cucumbers, lettuce and alfalfa spouts, resulting in almost 700 people becoming ill, with 51 hospitalised, a conference has been told. At least half of the outbreaks occurred at restaurants and nearly one-fifth of gastro illnesses were linked to fast food or takeaway shops.

The Communicable Disease Control Conference was told this month that fresh produce in particular may cause outbreaks because it was often eaten raw. Adrian Bradley from the NSW Food Authority said the widely held assumption that fresh produce didn't harbour pathogens such as salmonella, norovirus and Campylobacter was now known to be incorrect. OzFoodNet, the national food-borne illness surveillance system, shows that three major salmonella outbreaks occurred in 2006. More than 120 people in Western Australia and Victoria fell ill in the first half of last year after eating alfalfa sprouts. In October 2006, more than 120 cases of food poisoning caused by eating rockmelons occurred along the eastern seaboard. In November there was a small outbreak of salmonella linked to pawpaw.

Overseas evidence suggests contaminated water, fertiliser, contact with pests or animal faeces or insufficient cleaning of produce prior to sale could cause contamination. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Ageing said centralised growing and distribution of fresh produce, as well as enhanced detection, might be a factor in the increase in outbreak numbers. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) plans to introduce primary production and processing standards for high-risk fresh produce such as sprouts.

The NSW Food Authority said people considered "vulnerable" such as young children, the elderly, diabetics, pregnant women and those with cancer or suppressed immune systems should never eat any type of sprout. It advises avoiding any bruised, damaged, mouldy or slimy produce and washing all produce with cool tap water immediately before eating.


Tamiflu troubles good for Relenza?

Relenza is the alternative to Tamiflu but has not been much marketed because it must be inhaled rather than injected. After the report below, it may now be marketed more energetically. Huge sales in Japan could be expected

The main line of defence against pandemic flu came under threat yesterday after the Japanese Government said that the drug Tamiflu should not be prescribed to teenagers. The warning to GPs came after the drug was linked to 18 deaths in Japan that were caused by suicidal or irrational behaviour. The Japanese Government also told the Japanese distributor of the drug to include a warning not to give it to patients aged between 10 and 19. Japan consumes 60 per cent of the world's Tamiflu.

Britain has bought 14.9 million doses of Tamiflu from the manufacturer, Roche. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said that it had received only two reports of psychiatric symptoms associated with Tamiflu - both involving confusion in elderly patients. It said that there were no reports of depression or suicide linked to the drug.

Last month the European Medicines Agency, which licenses Tamiflu in Europe, asked Roche to incorporate new advice in the "summary product characteristics" document sent to doctors. This will say that there have been reports of abnormal responses but that they cannot be causally linked to Tamiflu. It also urges the close monitoring of patients, especially children.

Roche said yesterday: "Reports of such events leading to death are extremely rare, occurring in around one out of every 5 million influenza patients treated . . . US databases indicate psychiatric symptoms are lower in influenza patients taking Tamiflu versus those not taking Tamiflu." Anti-Tamiflu campaigners in Japan urged the Government to remove the drug from sale.



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 and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.