- Melamine Contamination From China Found in Some Snack Foods
- CDC Notes Mild West Nile Season
- U.S. Halts Chelation Study Enrollment
- Standardized Color Plan for Hospital Wristbands Faces Hurdles
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Melamine Contamination From China Found in Some Snack Foods
China's melamine contamination problem may be spreading to the snack world.
In the wake of recalls late last week of a vanilla-flavored snack known as white Rabbit from stores in Britain, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, the Associated Press reports that the product was also removed from store shelves in Hong Kong. Government officials say the snack contained more than five times the allowable amount of melamine, the wire service reports.
The problem is that melamine, an industrial chemical, has long been in China as an additive to milk powder. Almost 55,000 Chinese infants have been sickened from the milk powder, according to government estimates, including four who died.
But the milk powder has also been used in making creamy snacks, the A.P. reports, and health officials are only now beginning to determine how widespread the problem may be.
Food company and health officials also have to be aware of how rapidly a rumor can spread. Last week, the wire service reports, the Internet was crackling with reports the middle of the Oreo cookie contained melamine. This promoted a quick and intense response from Kraft Foods, emphasizing that Oreos' middles are not made with milk.
Meanwhile seven "Mr. Brown"-brand instant coffee and tea products, produced in China, are being recalled because they may be contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.
According to a statement posted on the FDA Web site, the recalled adult coffee products, made by China's Shandong Duqing Inc., are:
- Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
- Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
- Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
- Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
- Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
- Mr. Brown Mandhling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
- Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)
No illnesses related to the candy, coffee, or tea products have been reported in the United States, Bloomberg News cited the FDA as saying.
CDC Notes Mild West Nile Season
The 2008 West Nile virus season is shaping up to be the mildest since 2001, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The 368 severe cases tallied as of Tuesday represented less than one-third of the 2007 total, the Associated Press reported.
Most cases of West Nile are reported in August and September. The CDC said it wasn't clear why this season was on track to be so mild. Seven years ago, the last time so few severe cases were reported, the virus was just emerging in the United States and had only been identified in 10 states, the AP said.
Only about one in five people bitten by a West Nile infected mosquito becomes sick, and only about one in 150 contracts severe symptoms. These can include neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, and paralysis.
U.S. Halts Chelation Study Enrollment
The U.S. government has stopped enrolling participants in the largest alternative medicine study it's ever funded to assess whether candidates were properly informed of the potential risks, the Associated Press reported Friday.
More than 1,500 people who had survived a heart attack had been enrolled in the $30 million study of chelation, a controversial method most often used as a remedy for lead poisoning. Despite the halt to new enrollees, existing participants are still being treated.
The study is meant to test the use of high doses of vitamins, minerals, and chelation -- a therapy that involves injection of a drug (disodium EDTA) that proponents claim helps rid the body of calcium-causing plaque that's built up in artery walls. The therapy hasn't been proven safe or effective in treating heart disease.