Health Highlights: Feb. 24, 2016

Senate Confirms Califf to Lead FDA Judge Okays Fines for NYC Restaurants That Don't Post Salt Warnings Jury Awards $72 Million in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Case Alfalfa Sprouts Likely Cause of Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

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

Senate Confirms Califf to Lead FDA

Robert Califf has been confirmed by the Senate to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

President Barack Obama's nominee was confirmed in a 89-4 vote Wednesday. Califf spent more than 30 years at Duke University and had been the No. 2 official at the FDA, the Associated Press reported.

Califf's tasks include completing new tobacco regulations and food safety and labeling reforms.

He also pledged to re-evaluate how the FDA regulates prescription painkillers as the nation struggles with a painkiller abuse epidemic, the AP reported.


Judge Okays Fines for NYC Restaurants That Don't Post Salt Warnings

Chain restaurants in New York City that don't post high-salt warnings required by the city can be fined, a judge ruled Wednesday.

NYC's first-of-a-kind rule requires chain restaurants to include a salt-shaker icon on menu items that have more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is about a teaspoon, the Associated Press reported.

The National Restaurant Association went to court to block the rule, but State Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rakower said the city can enforce it.

Beginning March 1, restaurants can be fined up to $600 for failing to obey the rule, the AP reported.


Jury Awards $72 Million in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Case

The family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer she alleged was linked to talcum in Johnson & Johnson baby powder and other products was awarded $72 million by a Missouri jury.

Jackie Fox died in October 2015 at age 62, more than two years after her cancer diagnosis. But her son took over as plaintiff in her civil suit that was part of legal action against Johnson & Johnson involving nearly 60 people in the city of St. Louis Circuit Court, the Associated Press reported.

The jury's verdict on Monday night came after nearly five hours of deliberations after a three-week trial. The jury awarded $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages.

It's expected that New Jersy-based Johnson & Johnson -- the world's largest maker of health care products -- will appeal the verdict, said attorney James Onder, the AP reported.

The company is considering its next legal move, according to spokeswoman Carol Goodrich. The verdict "goes against decades of sound science proving the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient in multiple products," she said in a written statement.

The Fox trial was the first such case of more than 1,000 nationwide to result in a monetary award by a jury, the AP reported.


Alfalfa Sprouts Likely Cause of Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

A salmonella outbreak that has sickened 13 people in four states has been linked to alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms of Kansas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The number of people with the outbreak strain of salmonella include five in Kansas, three in Missouri, three in Oklahoma and two in Pennsylvania. Five patients were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

The patients range in age from 18 to 73, and they became ill between Dec. 1, 2015 and Jan. 21, 2016. Illnesses that began after Jan. 31 might not yet be reported because it takes an average of two to four weeks between the time a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, the CDC said.

An investigation by the CDC, Food and Drug Administration and state health officials traced the outbreak to alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms. These sprouts should not be eaten by consumers, sold by stores or served by restaurants, the CDC said.

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