NEWS SCAN: Listing beef product on labels, measles vaccine study

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Apr 2, 2012

Some producers plan to list beef trim product on ground beef labels
Some ground beef producers will voluntarily change their product labels to show they contain "lean finely textured beef" (LFTB), with the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) blessing, according to a report today from Meatingplace, a meat industry news site. LFTB—derived from beef trim through a process that includes centrifugation and an ammonia treatment to kill pathogens—has been pejoratively dubbed "pink slime" and has generated a media storm in recent weeks. According to Meatingplace, the USDA has agreed to approve requests by ground beef producers to label their products containing LFTB or similar products. USDA spokesman Aaron Lavallee said several companies have decided to list LFTB on their ground beef product labels, the story said. The step requires no change in USDA regulations, but a voluntary label statement about the presence or absence of LFTB is considered a claim, and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is required to verify the accuracy of all label claims, the story said.
Meanwhile, US Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has introduced a bill that would require products containing LFTB and similar materials to be labeled accordingly. In a press release, Pingree said parents and consumers want to choose whether to serve LFTB but can't do so unless they know if it's in the product they are buying. She said the bill has 10 cosponsors. The negative publicity over LFTB has caused several grocery chains to stop buying the product, and last week the slumping demand forced the manufacturer, Beef Products Inc., to suspend operations at three of its four plants.
Mar 30 Pingree press release

Study finds no febrile seizure link to measles vaccines in 4- to 6-year-olds
A study comparing two different strategies targeting the same four childhood diseases—measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and varicella (chicken pox)—in children ages 4 to 6 years old found no increased risk of febrile seizures, according to a study today in Pediatrics. The study was designed to evaluate whether there was an increased risk with a single vaccine against all four diseases or two separate vaccines, the MMR and chicken pox vaccine, given the same day. An earlier study in children ages 1 to 2 found that within 7 to 10 days of vaccination the risk of febrile seizure was double in those who received the single combination vaccine. Today's study was led by researchers from Kaiser Permanente who analyzed 86,750 children from seven Vaccine Safety Datalink sites from Jan 2000 to Oct 2008. US children receive two doses of MMR and varicella vaccines, the first between 1 and 2 years and the second between ages 4 and 6. The study found no elevated risk of febrile seizures within 6 weeks of vaccination. Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and codirector of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, said in a press release that the findings are reassuring. "As febrile seizures are generally much less likely to occur among 4- to 6-year-old children, it is not surprising that we did not detect increased febrile seizures."
Apr 2 Pediatrics abstract
Apr 2 Kaiser Permanente press release

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