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Health Highlights: Dec. 30, 2010

Nutrition Labels Coming to Meats in 2012 Judge Rules Against NYC's Gruesome Anti-Smoking Ads Donor in 1st Successful Organ Transplant Dies at Age 79 Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Alfalfa Sprouts Spreads to 16 States

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Nutrition Labels Coming to Meats in 2012

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, many meats will be required to come with nutrition labels that include information such as the number of calories, so consumers can be better informed about what they eat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.

The rule applies to 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry products, including pork, beef, lamb, and ground meat such as hamburger or turkey, according to published reports.

"More and more, busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. "We need to do all we can to provide nutrition labels that will help consumers make informed decisions."

The rule will require meat producers to reveal the total number of calories, the number of calories that come from fat, and the total grams of fat and saturated fat. The labels must also provide information about protein, cholesterol, sodium and vitamins in the product, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Calorie consumption is a worrisome issue in the United States, with an estimated two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Nutrition facts" labels have existed for several decades, and became mandatory on virtually all processed foods by 1994. But cuts of raw meat generally were left out of the labeling system -- until now, the Times reported.

The American Meat Institute, a trade group, said the new requirements would give the industry a chance to highlight some of its more healthful offerings.


Judge Rules Against NYC's Gruesome Anti-Smoking Ads

A federal judge on Wednesday struck down New York City's proposal to frighten smokers with images of ravaged lungs or decayed teeth in places where tobacco products are sold.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled on the legality of a 2009 city Board of Health code change mandating that the anti-smoking signs be displayed at retail outlets, the Associated Press reported.

According to the federal Labeling Act, enacted in 1965, only the federal government, not states, can dictate such warnings accompanying the promotion of cigarettes, Rakoff said.

"Even merchants of morbidity are entitled to the full protection of the law, for our sake as well as theirs," he said.

Nicholas Ciappetta, a lawyer representing the city in the case, told the AP that the city was "disappointed that this important health initiative was rejected by the court. We are studying the decision and considering our legal options."

The New York City legal tussle follows an announcement in November that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering similar gruesome anti-smoking images for tobacco product packaging nationwide.


Donor in 1st Successful Organ Transplant Dies at Age 79

The man who donated a kidney nearly six decades ago in what is considered the first successful organ transplant has died at the age of 79.

Ronald Lee Herrick, who donated the kidney to his dying twin brother 56 years ago, died Monday at the Augusta Rehabilitation Center in Maine. His wife, Cynthia, said his health deteriorated after heart surgery in October, the Associated Press reported.

Herrick donated the kidney to his brother, Richard, at what is today known as Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Because the men were identical twins, there was no problem with organ rejection. The United Network for Organ Sharing said it was the first successful organ transplant.

The surgery, done two days before Christmas in 1954, kept Richard Herrick alive for eight years. The lead surgeon, Dr. Joseph Murray, went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1990.


Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Alfalfa Sprouts Spreads to 16 States

The salmonella outbreak tied to contaminated alfalfa sprouts has grown to at least 94 cases in 16 states, federal officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of cases had risen from 89 cases in 15 states in the past week, with California now on the list, the Associated Press reported.

More than half the cases have been in Illinois. There have been no deaths.

The Food and Drug Administration is urging consumers to avoid alfalfa sprouts produced by the Tiny Greens Organic Farm in Urbana, Ill., because of possible contamination, the AP said.


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