• California mandates vaccinations after worst Whooping Cough epidemic in 60 years

    In 2010 California experienced the worst epidemic of whooping cough since 1947; the disease killed ten and infected more than 7,800 people; to avoid another outbreak a new California law requires children in seventh to twelfth grades to be vaccinated against Whooping Cough; the outbreak may have been the result of decreases in vaccinations among children

  • Food packaging indicates food freshness

    An estimated 8.3 million tons of household food — most of which could have been eaten — is wasted in the United Kingdom each year because retailers and consumers question whether the food is safe to eat; researchers at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University are developing a plastic indicator that alerts consumers to food that is starting to go off; the new indicator will change color to provide a warning when food is about to lose its freshness

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  • K-State doctoral dissertation examines food bioterrorism

    Terrorist “chatter” and information gleaned from informants have led DHS to warn restaurants and hotels that terrorists are planning to use biological agents to contaminate food in readily accessible areas such as salad bars, cafeteria food displays, and more; a Kansas State graduate student writes a dissertation on how restaurants in country clubs protect themselves against this risk; he finds that they do not do much

  • New U.S. food safety law goes into effect

    On 15 December the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first estimate since 1999 of the toll of food-borne diseases in the United States: 48 million people sick each year, 128,000 hospitalized, and 3000 deaths; in the biggest overhaul of food safety in the United States since the 1930s, President Barack Obama yesterday signed a law giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more power to inspect and shut down food producers yesterday, President Obama; critics say the law does not go far enough

  • Edible optical tags to combat counterfeit drugs

    A Hawaii-based company offers a new way to combat counterfeit drugs; affix a tiny, readable tag to each pill; the tags are made from clear, 100 percent silicon dioxide, which has been safely used as an ingredient in food and drugs for decades; they are both edible and biologically inert

  • Wastewater treatment lowers pathogen levels

    New analysis shows that pathogens levels in municipal water have dropped since the implementation of federal regulations on treating sewage in 1993; these treatment guidelines have proven to be extremely effective with 94 percent to 99 percent of all pathogens in biosolids eliminated after wastewater treatment

  • U.S. not ready for bioterrorism

    New report finds that if a major disease incident or bioterrorism attack were to occur today, the United States would not be ready for it; significant local, state, and federal budget cuts have had a negative impact on public health departments’ ability to maintain staff capabilities, and their ability to respond to crises

  • Feds warn of food-borne, other poison-based threats

    U.S. federal authorities believe a food-borne attack on the U.S. homeland is unlikely, but they are still urging businesses and local law enforcement to keep watch for such an attack and a smorgasbord of other poison-based threats, including the possible contamination of skin products or even handrails at public places

  • U.S. water contains large amounts of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium

    Drinking water in thirty-five American cities contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium; in twenty-five of those cities, the levels exceeded the goal proposed in California, which has been trying aggressively to reduce the chemical in its water supply, a probable carcinogen; the chemical compound was first made famous in the hit 2000 Hollywood movie “Erin Brockovich”

  • Mosquito-repelling light barriers will reduce spread of malaria

    Malaria accounts for 20 percent of all childhood deaths in Africa; a Columbia University experimental physicist is developing a “light shield” consisting of light barriers that can repel mosquitoes by throwing off the insects’ ability to navigate and detect humans via light and heat

  • Latest terror threat in U.S. aims to poison food

    CBS reports that DHS uncovered a plot to attack hotels and restaurants over a single weekend; the plot uncovered earlier this year is said to involve the use of two poisons — ricin and cyanide — slipped into salad bars and buffets

  • House passes sweeping food safety bill

    The House has passed a sweeping bill aimed at making food safer following recent outbreaks in peanuts, eggs and produce, sending it to President Obama for his signature; the legislation passed Tuesday would give the government broad new powers to inspect processing plants, order recalls and impose stricter standards for imported foods

  • GAO: HHS does not have plan for IT pandemic surveillance

    The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department has not developed a strategic plan for a national electronic network for public health situational awareness four years after being told to do so by Congress, according to the GAO

  • U.S. will carefully watch, but not regulate, synthetic biology

    White House commission says biologists can engineer custom organisms from synthetic genomes, with the government watching but not regulating the research; critics claim synthetic biology will create unnatural organisms likely to wreak havoc on the larger ecosystem if they got loose in the wild — to say nothing of the risks of bioterrorists using design pathogens; self-regulation, say the critics, is equivalent to no regulation

  • Fourth International Symposium on Agroterrorism announced

    The fourth International Symposium on Agroterrorism is scheduled for 26-28 April 2011, at the Hyatt Regency and Westin Crown Center Hotels in Kansas City, Missouri; it will focus on the need closely to communicate and coordinate among private industry, law enforcement, government agencies, science, academia, and the health and medical professions in order to protect the global food supply