This is Public Health

Three Soda Bottles

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of caramel colorings used in a variety of foods, including colas and other dark soft drinks, to determine whether the agency should act to limit consumers’ exposure to a chemical created during the manufacturing process.

The agency’s announcement came in response to a Consumer Report investigation that prompted the watchdog group Consumers Union to call for limits on 4-methyliminazole, or 4-Mel, an impurity produced in the production of some caramel colorings, as well as for labeling of products containing caramel coloring.

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Louisiana’s teen tobacco usage rates remain higher than the national average, with approximately 38.3 percent of high school and 15.6 percent of middle school students in Louisiana use tobacco, according to the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).

In light of these startling statistics, youth throughout the state are choosing to Stand UP! against the tobacco industry and its adolescent-targeted direct marketing efforts. Twelve groups across the state were awarded grants from the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) to engage and get youth involved with tobacco control and prevention efforts through the Defy the Lies initiative. As part of the grant, Defy teams participated in the point-of-purchase (also known as point-of-sale) project, which focused on tobacco products and advertising in stores where youth are likely to visit on a regular basis, like gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, and corner stores in their own communities.

“Reaching out to Louisiana youth, especially during the transition from middle and high school, is crucial,” said Tonia Moore, Associate Director for TFL. “We are continuously working to get local communities involved in TFL’s Defy the Lies initiative, a youth movement that takes down the influence of the tobacco industry, promotes tobacco-free lifestyles, and brings awareness to media and elected officials about what tobacco products are being consumed by and sold to our youth. The time is now to get a better handle on the large number of youth using tobacco products and stand up to the aggressive marketing tactics being used today.”

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The Food and Drug Administration has proposed sweeping rules to curtail food-borne illnesses that kill thousands of Americans annually — and, in the process, to transform itself into an agency that prevents contamination, not one that merely investigates outbreaks.

The rules, drafted with an eye toward strict standards in California and some other states, enable the implementation of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act that President Obama signed two years ago in response to a string of deadly outbreaks of illness from contaminated spinach, eggs, peanut butter and imported produce.

The first proposed rule would require domestic and overseas producers of food sold in the U.S. to craft a plan to prevent and deal with contamination of their products. The plans would be open to federal audits. The second rule would address contamination of fruit and vegetables during harvesting.

Click here to read more from the LA Times.

The FDA has issued an alert warning about risks, including death, associated with endovascular treatments for multiple sclerosis based on the controversial theory that the disease is caused or exacerbated by blocked cerebrospinal veins.

Called chronic cerebrospinal vascular insufficiency (CCSVI), the theory has polarized the MS community since an Italian researcher proposed it in 2009. Many patients and some physicians immediately embraced it, but most mainstream neurologists have been deeply skeptical.

Read the full release from the FDA.



Movie theaters will soon be required to display calorie counts for all food and beverages sold at concessions stands. As part of last year’s healthcare reform bill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will require calorie counts to be displayed at chain restaurants with 20 or more locations. The proposed guidelines specifically mention coffee shops, delicatessens, convenience stores, cafeterias, mall cookie counters, airlines and movie theatres. Will knowing the calories in what you eat when dining out movies impact the choices you make? Read more about how this new law is sparking controversy over consumers’ rights.


As part of a broader strategy that will help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting smoking, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has unveiled a new comprehensive tobacco control strategy that includes proposed new bolder health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements. This strategy includes a proposal issued by the FDA titled Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements. The proposal is part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that calls for cigarette packages and advertisements to carry nine larger and more noticeable warning statements and graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking. The public now has the opportunity to comment on 36 proposed images through January 9, 2011. View all 36 images and get instructions on how to provide feedback.


New Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on the sale and marketing of tobacco are in effect as of June 22, 2010. The new federal regulations limit the ability of tobacco companies to market and sell products to anyone under 18 years old, require larger health-warning labels to be placed on smokeless tobacco products, and make it illegal for companies to market products as “light,” “low,” or “mild.” Read more.

Among other things, the new rule:

Prohibits the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18, Prohibits the sale of cigarette packages with less than 20 cigarettes, Prohibits distribution of free samples of cigarettes, Restricts distribution of free samples of smokeless tobacco, and Prohibits tobacco brand name sponsorship of any athletic, musical or other social or cultural events. Manufacturers and retailers who do not comply with the new rule may be subject to penalties. To learn more about the new tobacco marketing restrictions, visit the FDA website.