Wednesday

European Parliament Rejects Tight Restrictions on E-Cigarettes

Proposals by European health officials to regulate e-cigarettes as medical devices are snuffed out. The European Parliament instead endorsed a permissive approach to the sale and use of e-cigarettes, although the products won’t be sold legally to anyone younger than 18. The move sets the stage for a debate in the U.S., where authorities say they want to issue regulations on the nicotine-delivery devices soon. Separately, as expected, the European Parliament approved measures banning conventional cigarettes with menthol flavoring — although the ban will take effect in eight years, rather than the proposed three years. Parliament also approved requiring cigarette packs to carry health warnings covering 65 percent of the packages, up from 40 percent. The New York Times

Furloughed U.S. experts on foodborne illnesses get called back to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it called back nearly a dozen data analysts and epidemiologists who track down and respond to foodborne illnesses, in part because of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people. About 9,000 of the CDC’s 13,000 workers remain furloughed due to the government shutdown. The CDC’s move follows a safety alert about illnesses caused by Salmonella Heidelberg strains associated with raw chicken from California-based Foster Farms. Separately, the CDC said some of the salmonella strains are antibiotic-resistant, which may explain why many of those sickened, 42 percent, have been hospitalized. The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times

Criminal prosecutions over tainted food signal tougher regulatory tack. The Obama administration changed the legal landscape two weeks ago when it filed criminal charges against Eric Jensen, 37, and Ryan Jensen, 33, owners of Jensen Farms in Colorado, which was linked to the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in U.S. history. The brothers each face up to six years in jail and a combined $1.5 million fine in connection with a 2011 Listeria outbreak tied to 33 deaths and a miscarriage. The charges follow February’s 76-count federal indictment against three Peanut Corp. of America executives for involvement in a 2009 Salmonella outbreak linked to 700 reported illnesses and nine deaths. “This shock-and-awe approach creates a deterrent,” an industry lawyer said. PoliticoFood Safety News

South Korea suspends some U.S. beef imports after detecting a cattle feed additive. The additive, zilpaterol, was found in a 22-ton shipment of meat from Greeley, Colo.,-based Swift Beef. Such additives are banned in much of Asia and Europe due to concerns about the side effects of the drugs, which are used to add muscle weight to animals. South Korea’s food ministry said it halted imports from a Swift Beef work site, and asked the U.S. to investigate the cause of the contamination. The ministry said it toughened scrutiny of U.S. beef after Taiwan also detected zilpaterol in U.S. beef last month. Feed additives have drawn extra attention since a video appeared in August showing animals struggling to walk and with other signs of distress after taking a growth drug. Reuters, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal

Health officials in Las Vegas urge tuberculosis testing for hundreds. The testing is being recommended for babies, family members and staff who were at a Las Vegas neonatal intensive care unit this summer. Officials said they want to take extra precautions after the death of a mother and her twin babies and the infection of more than 26 people. Authorities with the Southern Nevada Health District said they are working to contact parents of about 140 babies who were at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center between mid-May and mid-August. Health officials think the woman who died contracted TB through an unpasteurized dairy product from Latin America. The Associated Press

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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