Health Highlights: Sept. 15, 2011

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

FDA Disputes TV Claim About Apple Juice

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is disputing a televised claim made by a prominent talk show host that small amounts of arsenic found in many apple juice products could be harmful, the Associated Press reported.

Dr. Mehmet Oz said on Tuesday's syndicated show that a New Jersey laboratory had found potentially harmful amounts of arsenic in many apple juice products.

The FDA said the laboratory methods used were inappropriate, adding that FDA tests indicated much lower amounts of arsenic. The agency said it told the show's producers before the broadcast aired that the FDA was disputing the test results, the AP reported.

On Thursday, the former acting chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Richard Besser, told the ABC broadcast "Good Morning America" that Oz's report was "extremely irresponsible," the AP reported.

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Colorado Cantaloupes Recalled

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to avoid eating Rocky Ford Cantaloupe distributed by Jensen Farms of Granada, Colo., because of a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes.

The distributor has begun a voluntary recall of cantaloupes shipped from Rocky Ford's farming region in Colorado from July 29 through Sept. 10.

The recalled cantaloupes were delivered to at least 17 states, and at least 22 people in seven states have been infected, the U.S. Centers for Disease protection and Control said. Those most at risk of serious Listeria infection are the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

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No Smoking E-Cigarettes in the Air

U.S. airline passengers would lose the right to use electronic cigarettes while flying, under a new proposal made by the Obama administration.

The proposed ban stems from concerns about potential harm from chemicals emitted by smokeless cigarettes, which are already prohibited from Amtrak trains. The products also face restrictions in several states, the Associated Press reported.

Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products is already forbidden on airline flights, and the new proposal would extend that prohibition to e-cigarettes, as they are called.

"Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

The battery-powered cigarettes are meant to give users the feeling of smoking while delivering a vapor containing nicotine or other substances, rather than smoke. Industry officials objected to the federal proposal, saying smokeless cigarettes are safe.

"Everybody knows that when you are smoking on an airplane that's an absolutely a no-no. But this is not smoking. This is vaping," Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, told the AP. His association represents 25 manufacturers and distributors.

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'Corn Syrup' Makers Want Name Change

The corn industry and an official at the Food and Drug Administration may have a war of words over an attempt to rename the sweetener now called "high fructose corn syrup."

When the Corn Refiners Association informally asked last year if it could use the term "corn sugar" instead of high fructose corn syrup, Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, said that the change would mislead consumers, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.

"It would be affirmatively misleading to change the name of the ingredient after all this time, especially in light of the controversy surrounding it," Taylor, who oversees food labeling, wrote to colleagues. "If we allow it, we will rightly be mocked both on the substance of the outcome and the process through which it was achieved."

Some scientists have linked high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient in sodas and processed foods, to the obesity epidemic and chronic health problems.

The industry had earlier petitioned to change the name to corn syrup, a request that has not been ruled upon.

"Whatever you call it, it should have little place in the American diet," former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler told the wire service.

Posted: September 2011


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