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May 10th, 2010
04:32 PM ET

USDA sets new standards for inspecting poultry

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer

The federal government is trying to cut down on the number of food borne illnesses in poultry. This afternoon Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new standards for inspecting young chickens (broilers) and turkeys.

"With these new standards we hope to prevent an estimated 39,000 illnesses due to Campylobacter and 26,000 illnesses due to Salmonella within the next two years," Vilsack said. Vilsack also mentioned the new performance standards fulfill a key recommendation of the President's Food Safety Working Group and are the first-ever for Campylobacter, and the first revision to the Salmonella standards for chicken since 1996 and for turkeys since 2005. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also released a compliance guide to help the poultry industry address Salmonella and Campylobacter and a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle.

"There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day as part of the President's Food Safety Working Group (FSIS) to lower the danger of food borne illness," said Vilsack. "The new standards announced today mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against Campylobacter."

According to the USDA by revising current performance standards and setting new ones, FSIS is encouraging establishments to make continued improvement in the levels of pathogens in their products. FSIS developed the stricter performance standards by using data from completed studies that measured the baseline prevalence of Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chicken (broiler) and turkey carcasses nationwide.

The FSIS expects to begin using the standards after analyzing public comment and, if necessary, making adjustments.

"Preventing food borne illness is the core mission of the Food Safety and Inspection Service and today's announcement will help us reduce the incidence of Salmonella and Campylobacter," said Jerold Mande, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety.

Comments regarding the compliance guides document must be received within the 60 day comment period through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. All submissions received through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail must reference the Food Safety and Inspection Service and include the docket number "FSIS-2009-0034."

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


May 10th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

The disk that ruined Tiger’s game

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

A neck injury has tamed the Tiger.

Golfer Tiger Woods pulled out of the final round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass on Sunday because of what he called “a bulging disk.”

Woods said the pain began before the Masters tournament last month.

Disks are like cushions between the vertebrae in the spine, that act like “miniature jelly doughnuts” and fit “exactly the right size to fit between your vertebrae,” according to the Mayo Clinic’s explanation. A bulging disk means that it is extending beyond the space it should occupy. These types of injuries can occur because of age-related wear and tear on the spine.

Mayo Clinic.com: Herniated disk vs. bulging disk: What's the difference?

Some bulging disks cause little to no pain, but not for Woods.

"I'm having a hard time with the pain," Woods said in a press conference Sunday.

"There's tingling down my fingers, just the right side. Setting up over the ball is fine but once I start making the motion, it's downhill from there." CNN.com: Injury forces Woods out of Players

The treatment of a painful disk may include rest, rest, pain medications, physical therapy, cortisone injections, therapy and surgery. Read more on disk injuries.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


May 10th, 2010
12:05 AM ET

Kids with hearing loss in one ear need more treatment

By Georgiann Caruso
CNN Medical Associate Producer

Young children suffering from hearing loss in one ear should receive the same treatment as children who are impaired in both ears, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday. Researchers looked looked at 74 pairs of siblings age 6-12 and tested their speech-language development. They found that children with permanent hearing loss of any degree in one ear had “substantially worse" speech skills than their brothers and sisters with normal hearing.

The study suggests that even though speech-language test scores do not directly translate into school performance, children who couldn’t hear well in one ear did have significant problems in school.

"I think that we need to reconsider the way that the children have been treated, because in the past, most physicians and certainly educators and school districts have not considered (this) to be a problem," said study author Dr. Judith Lieu of the Washington University School of Medicine.

The study suggests that parents and schools alike be informed about the harmful effects of this type of hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association,
approximately 3 percent of school-age children do not have normal hearing in both ears.

“Many kids can get by just fine in school with a mild hearing loss if they’re very attentive and there’s a good acoustic environment,” said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, professor and chairman of otolaryngology at Long Island College Hospital. But that doesn’t mean not to consider a hearing test by an audiologist.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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