Sunday, September 25, 2011

That evil coffee (?)

Not good for the young?? This sounds like kneejerk Puritanism. Where is the evidence of harm from coffee? When I was growing up kids in Australia were quite normally given a cup of tea with their evening meal and tea is also a caffeinated beverage. I have never heard of any harm from the practice

STUDENTS as young as 12 are being served coffee by a full-time barista employed by one of Sydney's top private schools. Presbyterian Ladies' College Sydney has opened the "Cyber Cafe" as part of extensive library renovations.

The cafe has outraged nutritionists who are concerned there are no restrictions on how many coffees students from the school in Croydon can purchase in a day.

Coffees cost $3 each (50c extra for soy or syrup flavour). Year 11 and 12 students are free to use the coffee shop all day, while Years 7-10 students can only buy before and after school and during recess and lunch.

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said the cafe should be restricted to Year 11 and 12 students as younger children should not be encouraged to consume caffeine. "It is too early to be introducing them to coffee," she said. "This is going to need a close watch because it is easy for girls to drink lots of coffee to keep them going instead of eating."

A barista at the cafe told The Sunday Telegraph the students drink a lot of coffee. She said they also add sweet syrups, including caramel and vanilla, which masks the taste.

The cafe makes between 10kg and 15kg of coffee per week, which equates to about 2100 cups, according to owner of coffee academy Barista Basics David Gee. "Say the coffees are $3, they'd be making about $5000 per week just in coffee sales,'' he said.

The school's director of information services Joanna Taylor said the caf is "a very popular space''. "I don't know how much coffee they drink but the reality is, in the morning, even before the caf, the girls come walking up the street holding their coffees.''


Australia: Natural medicine offers risks not relief

HEALTH authorities have failed to keep up with an explosion in natural therapists as lives are put at risk from untested, unproven and potentially dangerous services.

More than 200,000 practitioners work in unregistered health fields Australia-wide and complementary medicines generate almost $2 billion a year, but little can be done when treatments go wrong.

In a damning assessment of consumer-protection measures, Queensland's health watchdog admits it is powerless to respond to the misconduct of alternative healers and other unregistered practitioners.

"The status quo does not sufficiently protect consumers from (the) risk of harm from unregistered health practitioners," the Health Quality and Complaints Commission says in a confidential paper obtained by The Sunday Mail.

Naturopathy, faith and spiritual healing, Chinese medicine, homeopathy and massage are among the unregulated fields in Queensland, with the medical community warning of a health "time bomb".

"This is a public health issue waiting to explode," said UQ School of Population Health researcher Jon Wardle, who has found there are now more alternative medical practitioners than doctors in some areas.

"For half the healthcare sector to be non-regulated is completely inappropriate it is the black market of health."

The Australian Traditional Medicine Society says the industry is "overall very safe" but supports reforms to protect consumers.

Figures obtained by The Sunday Mail show there have been 119 complaints about alternative practitioners to the state's health watchdog in the past three years. Allegations of assault, rough and painful treatment, illegal practices, medication errors and inappropriate treatment are among the complaints.

However, the complaints commission is unable to discipline offenders and can only forward cases to other agencies for action under general consumer and criminal laws.

The state lags a long way behind NSW, where a health complaints commissioner can ban unregistered practitioners who breach a statutory code of conduct. There are no similar prohibition powers in Queensland.

An acupuncturist who caused a collapsed lung was among nine people banned in NSW since 2008.

Doctors' group the AMA says it is aware of dangerous practices, including practitioners claiming to be able to change DNA. "These practitioners sometimes lead patients to believe almost magical things can be done," Queensland AMA president Dr Richard Kidd said.

A further 80 complaints were made about complementary medicines and therapies to Queensland's Office of Fair Trading since 2008.

A huge question mark hangs over the safety of complementary medicines, with a scathing report this month revealing that nine out of 10 products were not meeting regulatory standards.

The Auditor-General's report found the 10,000 complementary medicines registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration did not have to be tested for safety nor efficacy.

A TGA spokeswoman last week said there were 276 adverse drug reaction reports relating to complementary medicines, or 2 per cent of all reports.

Grave concerns about the policing of alternative operators this year prompted the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council to launch a review of regulation. The body, due to report to health ministers in November, consulted with representative associations and found there were at least 200,000 practitioners.

Queensland's Health Quality Complaints Commission sent a "private and confidential" submission to the advisory council backing a national code of conduct and banning powers.

The present system allowed repeat offenders to "continue providing health services that harm the public", chief executive Cheryl Herbert wrote.


No comments: