Health Highlights: June 13, 2014
Work Schedule Changes Could Reduce Air Traffic Controllers' Fatigue: StudyBeef Products Recalled Over Mad Cow Concerns Major U.S. Brewers to Post Beer Ingredients Online First Lady Will Fight to 'Bitter End' to Protect New School Lunch Standards Sprouted Chia Seeds and Clover Linked to Outbreaks First Chikungunya Case Confirmed in U.S. Virgin Islands
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Work Schedule Changes Could Reduce Air Traffic Controllers' Fatigue: Study
Changes in air-traffic controllers' work schedules could help prevent fatigue that increases the risk of aircraft collisions, according to a federal government study.
The National Research Council study expressed concern about putting controllers on five eight-hour shifts over four days. Controllers like this schedule because it gives them 80 hours off afterward, USA Today reported.
However, this type of schedule likely leads to fatigue during the final midnight shift, according to the study. It also noted that budget cuts prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from monitoring controller fatigue and investigating ways to reduce fatigue.
"From a fatigue and safety perspective, this scheduling is questionable and the committee was astonished to find that it is still allowed under current regulations," the 12-member committee wrote, USA Today reported.
They also said it's difficult to determine the proper levels of staffing. The study was ordered by Congress in 2012 after a number of incidents in which air traffic controllers fell asleep on the job.
Beef Products Recalled Over Mad Cow Concerns
More than 4,000 pounds of beef products are being recalled by a Missouri company due to the slight chance that they may expose people to mad cow disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
The products were produced by Fruitland American Meat and distributed to restaurants in New York City and Kansas City, Mo., and a Whole Foods distribution in Connecticut, the Associated Press reported.
The beef products could contain parts of the cow's nervous system that can carry properties related to mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- BSE). There is no indication that the cattle used to make the beef products showed signs of the disease, the USDA said.
BSE can cause a fatal brain disease in people who eat tainted beef. There have been no reports of problems among people who ate the recalled products, according to the USDA.
The agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service uncovered the potential problem while reviewing the company's slaughter logs, and said it may be due to the way that employees determined the age of cattle, the AP reported.
This is a Class II recall, which means there is a "remote probability" of health problems among people who consume the recalled products, which include quartered beef carcasses stamped with the establishment number "EST. 2316" inside the USDA mark of inspection, and 80-pound cases containing two cryovac packages of bone-in "Rain Crow Ranch Ribeye" with the establishment number "EST. 2316" inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The following production dates are printed on the boxes of the recalled beef products: 9/5/13, 9/10/13, 9/11/13, 9/26/13, 10/2/13, 10/3/2013, 11/8/13, 11/22/13, 12/17/13, 12/26/13, 12/27/13,1/16/14, 1/17/14, 1/23/14, 1/31/14, 2/13/14, 2/14/14, 2/21/14, 2/28/14, 3/8/14, 3/20/14, 4/4/14 or 4/25/14.
Major U.S. Brewers to Post Beer Ingredients Online
The ingredients of some beers made by MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch will be posted online, the companies say.
Thursday's announcement by the United States' largest brewers came after a blogger known as the Food Babe petitioned the companies to be more "transparent." Vani Hari's online petition received 40,000 signatures in 24 hours, ABC News reported.
Hari alleges that some beers contain ingredients such as artificial flavoring, high-fructose corn syrup and stabilizers, which have been linked to problems such as allergies, gastrointestinal problems, obesity and hyperactivity.
Propylene glycol -- a foaming ingredient used in aircraft de-icing fluid -- is also used by big brewers, along with fish bladders during brewing for clarity, according to Hari, ABC News reported.
First Lady Will Fight to 'Bitter End' to Protect New School Lunch Standards
Michelle Obama says she will "fight until the bitter end" to protect healthier school lunch standards that are under threat from Republican lawmakers.
The new standards were introduced as part of the first lady's efforts to fight childhood obesity, but are under threat from a House bill, the Associated Press reported.
The bill would permit some schools to opt out of the new federal rules that school lunches include more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A vote on the bill is expected soon, and the White House has said it will veto the measure.
The school lunch standards are important because children get most of their nutrition from meals eaten at school, according to Mrs. Obama, the AP reported.
"I'm going to fight until the bitter end to make sure that every kid in this country continues to have the best nutrition that they can have in our schools, because these kids, all of these kids are worth it," she said Thursday at her annual garden harvest. "They are absolutely worth it."
Sprouted Chia Seeds and Clover Linked to Outbreaks
Two outbreaks involving foods made from either sprouted chia seeds or clover have sickened more than 70 people in the United States and Canada, and more than 10 of them have been hospitalized.
A salmonella outbreak has been linked to a powder made from sprouted, ground chia seeds and another product made from sprouted chia and flax seeds, USA Today reported.
The chia products have been linked to 21 illnesses in 12 states and 34 infections in Canada.
In the other outbreak, sprouted clover has been linked to an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 17 people in five states. Nearly half of those people have been hospitalized, USA Today reported.
Officials traced the outbreak to raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Moyie Springs, Idaho.
First Chikungunya Case Confirmed in U.S. Virgin Islands
The first locally transmitted case of a mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya has been confirmed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, health officials said Wednesday.
They did not provide any information about the patient, and said a second patient with the virus was infected elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.
Local authorities are working closely with U.S. government officials to "raise awareness and prevent the spread of the virus," said Darice Plaskett, health commissioner for the three-island territory.
Chikungunya has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean. The virus causes symptoms such as headache, fever, and joint pain, but is rarely fatal. There is no vaccine for the virus, the AP reported.
Some U.S. states are investigating cases of chikungunya among people who recently traveled to the Caribbean.