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January 18
​Warming Oceans Linked to Increased Risks of Toxic Shellfish

Rising ocean temperatures are leading to a rise in shellfish containing a potentially deadly toxin, according to new research. Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced from marine algae, can reach hazardous levels as ocean temperatures rise. The toxin accumulates in shellfish and fish to no ill-effects; however, in humans the toxin crosses the blood-brain barrier causing brain-damage or death at high doses.

Warmer waters off the west coast near Oregon and Washington have resulted in algae blooms so large they can be seen from outer-space. A team of experts from a NOAA associated with Oregon State University are developing new methods for tracking the blooms. "Using extensive time series of biological, chemical, and physical data, this study also created a climate-based risk analysis model which predicts where and when domoic acid in shellfish will likely exceed regulatory thresholds.”

This study may help determine if the increased ocean-climate variability will lead to wide-spread outbreaks of algae blooms. This data can be used to make public health decisions on crab and fish harvesting at particular times and locations of the year. These current blooms are largely a product of two natural weather processes, the El Niño effect and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

However, scientists warned that if ocean temperatures rise because of global warming, this could lead to an increase in the numbers of poisonous shellfish.

For more information please visit - http://www.noaa.gov/media-release/warmer-west-coast-ocean-conditions-linked-to-increased-risk-of-toxic-shellfish​

January 18
​Algae Blooms on Florida Coastlines

Home to the most renowned beaches in the US, Florida’s beautiful coastlines comes with its share of hazards. Not in the form of sharks, hurricanes, or flooding; but a subtler contender – algae.

Flanked by the Gulf of Mexico on the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the limestone aquifer underground, Florida’s ecosystem is entirely connected to its water shed. Algae growth has always been a natural and primarily healthy organism within the aquatic ecosystem; so when does algae growth become a problem?

In the recent years, the terms ‘Red Tide’ and HAB (Hazardous Algae Blooms) have become common terminology for Florida natives and tourists. Red tide is generally associated with the Gulf of Mexico and HAB Bluegreen algae blooms are associated with Okeechobee river near south-eastern Florida.

‘Red Tide’ is associated with the organism, Karenia brevis, a microscopic algae that occurs normally in low concentrations. In algae blooms, the concentration becomes so high that the water takes on a different color, hence the term ‘red-tide’. The algae blooms produce excessive levels of toxin which can paralyze and kill fish. This toxin can then accumulate in other fish and shellfish, which when eaten by humans, can produce serious illness or death.

HAB Bluegreen algae blooms are associated with cyanobacteria. These algae blooms produce neurotoxins which can cause nerve and brain damage. HAB’s occurrence has risen over the past years as our water shed direction changed in the ‘Treasure coastline’ of south-eastern Florida. This guacamole color sludge is a man-made affliction from human waste and fertilizer run off into Lake Okeechobee – a diagram can be seen here. Under normal circumstances, the water run-off heads into the everglades. With new land development near the everglades, water run-off is now being diverted. The Army Corps of Engineers will pump and divert the freshwater runoff from Lake Okeechobee’s outlying developments and sugar cane fields, towards the intercoastal, where it accumulates and grows HABs.

In June of 2016, governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in response to massive HAB’s forming off the southeastern coastline. Through sea-level rise and global warming, there has never been a more dire time to protect Florida’s watershed and coastlines.

For more information please visit the following sites:

January 18
Utility Worker Deaths in Key Largo

​Three utility workers died Monday and a rescue firefighter was nearly killed when built up poisonous gases overwhelmed them in a confined space.

Read the full article here.

January 11
FDA Ban on Powdered Gloves as of January 18th, 2017 for Medical Procedures

In the past, powdered gloves were a popular method to make gloves easier to put on and remove.  However, recent studies from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have determined that powdered surgeon's gloves, powdered patient's examination gloves, and absorbable powder for lubricating a surgeon's glove present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury. The outcome of these studies note that these powders when used with latex gloves carry the latex material.  As a result, those individuals who are sensitive to latex are occasionally exposed to enough latex to develop an allergy.  Based upon the studies, the FDA will pass the final regulation that will go into effect on January 18, 2017, to ban the use of these gloves in medical procedures.

Additional information on this regulation can be found at:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/19/2016-30382/banned-devices-powdered-surgeons-gloves-powdered-patient-examination-gloves-and-absorbable-powder

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/EconomicAnalyses/UCM532959.pdf

January 09
Food Safety and Nutrition Resources for Healthcare Professionals

The Food and Drug Adaministration (FDA) has compliled a wealth of information to help educate healthcare professionals and their patients about foodborne illness, available at the following site: http://1.usa.gov/1MtSWHB

December 05
Food Safety Tips for the Holidays From the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

​Please review the following tips from the CDC to ensure a healthy holiday season.  CDC Food Safety Tips.

December 05
Beware of Methylmercury When Consuming Fish and Shellfish.  Especially During Pregnancies.

So you or your spouse are pregnant. Naturally you want the best possible outcome for your newborn. You may want to reconsider consumption of certain fish and shellfish during pregnancy. A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health(NIH) has revealed “Adults with high prenatal exposure to methylmercury, which mainly comes from maternal consumption of fish with high mercury levels, did not experience the faster cognitive processing and better short term memory benefits of exercise that were seen in those with low prenatal methylmercury exposures”.

Click on the following article for details.NIH Article on Methylmercury Cancelling out Benefits of Aerobic Exercise.

Consumer Reports haa the following recommendation for fish and shellfish consumption during pregnacy and also lifetime consumption. Mercury in Fish and Shellfish.

December 02
Seized Milk

U.S. Marshals Service seized more than 4 million pounds of product produced by Valley Milk Products LLC (Valley Milk) of Strasburg, Virginia. The seized products include dry nonfat milk powder and buttermilk powder packaged in 40- and 50-pound bags for further manufacturing and are worth nearly $4 million.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the complaint, on behalf of the FDA, alleging that the seized products are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

During an FDA inspection of Valley Milk, FDA investigators observed poor sanitary practices and reviewed the company’s records, which showed positive results for Salmonella in the plant’s internal environmental and finished product samples. In addition, swabs collected during the inspection confirmed Salmonella on surfaces food came into contact with after being pasteurized.

"The FDA urged Valley Milk to conduct a voluntary recall of the implicated products," said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The firm refused to recall and, as a result, we have had to intervene and seize this adulterated food to prevent it from reaching consumers who could be exposed to Salmonella from these products." More information here: http://go.usa.gov/x8URq

 

December 02
Florida's first legal needle exchange program


Miami, FL is now home to the state's first legal needle exchange program!

"At the IDEA exchange, the containers offer two choices for participants. Inside one, they can trade out needles, as well as pick up related items — cotton balls, tourniquets, cookers and sterile water — for injecting the drugs safely. Staffers have bandages and antibiotic ointments on hand, too, to care for the infections and abscesses dirty needles can cause.

In the other trailer, participants can get linked to substance abuse counseling and medical care at a UM clinic two blocks away, or be tested for diseases like hepatitis C and HIV. The clinic is the only place in the county where the test results are not logged for research purposes.

Weeks from now, another box will hold Naloxone, the drug that saves narcotics users from their overdoses. Soon, the clinic will give away the life-saving drug as part of its overdose prevention outreach."

http://www.miamiherald.com/…/health-c…/article118100848.html

 

November 29
Gravy Recall

Heinz Co. is recalling Homestyle Bistro Au Jus Gravy products that are incorrectly labeled as Homestyle Pork Gravy. The recalled products have "Best By 12/28/2017 MU6F04” on the jar cap & EST# “M2041” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. More info here: http://go.usa.gov/x8XtN

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