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Health Highlights: May 14, 2015

Blue Bell Announces Listeria Monitoring Agreement with StatesUSDA Working on GMO-Free Certification, Labeling for Foods Most Americans Have Tooth Decay: Study

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

Blue Bell Announces Listeria Monitoring Agreement with States

In new agreements with Texas and Oklahoma, Blue Bell Creameries pledged to tell health officials in those states about any positive test results for listeria in its products or ingredients.

The Texas-based ice cream maker has plants in both states. The company also said it is drafting a similar agreement with health officials in Alabama, where it also has a plant, USA Today reported.

In late April, Blue Bell recalled all its products due to possible listeria contamination. Its ice cream was linked to 10 illnesses in four states, including three deaths.

"We are committed to meeting the high standards and expectations of our customers and our regulatory agencies," Paul Kruse, Blue Bell chief executive and president, said in a statement released Thursday.

"State and federal regulatory agencies play an important role in food safety, and we hope that it will be reassuring to our customers that we are working cooperatively with the states of Texas and Oklahoma in taking the necessary steps to bring Blue Bell Ice Cream back to the market," Kruse said.


USDA Working on GMO-Free Certification, Labeling for Foods

The first U.S. government certification and labeling for foods that don't contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is being created by the Department of Agriculture.

The certification would be voluntary and companies would have to pay for it. Approved foods would carry a "USDA Process Verified" label and a claim that they are GMO-free, the Associated Press reported.

It's expected that the certification program will be announced soon.

Currently, there are no government labels that certify food as GMO-free. A number of food producers use a private label from a nonprofit organization called the Non-GMO Project, the AP reported.

Some consumer groups want mandatory labeling of foods with GMOs, saying that people have a right to know what is in their food and that not enough is known about the effects of GMOs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says GMOs on the market now are safe.


Most Americans Have Tooth Decay: Study

Nearly all Americans have tooth decay, according to a federal government study.

"Approximately 91 percent of U.S. adults aged 20-64 had dental caries in permanent teeth in 2011-2012," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, NBC News reported.

The study also said that 96 percent of Americans have tooth decay by age 65.

The analysis of data from tens of thousands of Americans who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey also found that more than a quarter have untreated cavities.

"The prevalence of untreated dental caries was nearly twice as high for non-Hispanic black adults (42 percent) compared with non-Hispanic white (22 percent) and Asian (17 percent) adults," according to the study, NBC News reported.

About 19 percent of people 65 and older and 26 percent of those 75 and older have no teeth.

Access to dentists is a major factor. People who don't have insurance for dental care and those who live in areas with few dentists are more likely to have tooth decay and to have untreated cavities, NBC News reported.

Consumer News