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Recalls announced on two flour brands for possible E. coli contamination

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced two voluntary recalls of flour due to possible E. coli contamination.

UNFI voluntarily recalled five-pound bags of its Wild Harvest Organic All-Purpose Flour, unbleached. During routine FDA sampling of the five-pound bag product, results were found to be positive for E. coli.

To date, UNFI has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product. This recall is being issued out of an abundance of care.

This recall only affects the following code date of Wild Harvest® Organic All-Purpose Flour, Unbleached five-pound bags currently in stores or consumers’ pantries. No other types of Wild Harvest® Flour are affected by this recall.

Wild Harvest® Organic All-Purpose Flour, Unbleached Package UPC: 711535509158 Best if Used by Date: 010820 CC 15:58

Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product affected by this recall. Consumers with questions may contact UNFI at 855-423-2630 (customer support is available seven days-a-week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., CST).

Hodgson Mill of Effingham, IL, announced a voluntary national recall of specific lots of its Unbleached All-Purpose White Wheat Flour (five pound)

They are taking this voluntary precautionary step because of the potential presence of pathogenic E. coli which was discovered through sampling raw uncooked flour. Hodgson Mill has not received any confirmed reports of illnesses related to this product.

The only product affected by this voluntary recall is: Unbleached All-Purpose White Wheat Flour (five pound) UPC 0-71518-05009-2. Best by Date 10-01-2020 and 10-02-2020 with lot codes listed Lot# 001042 & 005517.

Use By and Lot Code information can be found on the bottom back panel of the five-pound Bag. Used by Date and Lot Code, along with their location on the bag, must all match in order to represent flour affected by this recall.

Consumers who have purchased five-pound packages of Unbleached All-Purpose White Wheat Flour with specific lot codes are urged to stop using the product immediately and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company customer service Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1-888-417-9343 x 1.

Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

E. coli can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections in infants, older people, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. The most common symptoms of E. coli are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, which develop within three or four days of eating contaminated food. The illness usually lasts about a week, and most people recover without treatment.

Guidance from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour and that all surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

E. coli is killed by heat through baking, frying, sautéing or boiling products made with flour.

For more information, visit the CDC website.

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Mississippi State Board of Health comes out in strong opposition to medical marijuana initiative

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(Photo by Thayne Tuason - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Mississippi State Board of Health today released a resolution in opposition to the upcoming medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Click to enlarge the image.

The initiative will be on the November 2020 ballot for the voters to decide if medical marijuana will be allowed to be sold with a doctor’s recommendation in the state. To date, 33 states have passed legislation allowing its sale, and 11 states allow recreational use of marijuana as well.

Advocates for the resolution say that medical marijuana will help numerous people suffering from debilitating medical conditions in a legal and safe manner. If approved by the voters, patients who are suffering will be able to obtain medical marijuana after they are examined by Mississippi-licensed physicians and certified to use medical marijuana.

The list of 22 diseases for which medical marijuana could be recommended includes epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, Crohn’s disease, ALC and sickle-cell anemia.

“We are disappointed in the Health Department’s position,” said Medical Marijuana 2020 spokeswoman Jamie Grantham.  “We have had multiple positive meetings leading up to this point.”

“Our research shows that 77 percent of Mississippi voters favor this initiative,” she added.

See more about the ballot initiative at www.medicalmarijuana2020.com.

In the resolution, printed in full below, the board expressed its strong opposition to the initiative.

RESOLUTION REGARDING THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA 2020 BALLOT INITIATIVE

Whereas the Mississippi State Board of Health is charged with formulating policy regarding public health matters; and

Whereas the Mississippi State Board of Health conducted a special Board Meeting in December 2019 for the purposes of understanding issues surrounding medical marijuana, and information was presented by representatives from Medical Marijuana 2020, the Mississippi State Medical Association and the University of Mississippi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and

Whereas medical evidence to date demonstrates that chemical constituents of cannabis (marijuana), cannabidiol and THC, have numerous potential medical uses, with four cannabis-based compounds that have currently undergone FDA review and which are available by prescription (prescription formulations of cannabidiol and THC), used for the treatment of certain seizure disorders and anorexia/nausea respectively, including patients afflicted with AIDS and Cancer; and

Whereas Marijuana is a Schedule I drug and illegal under federal law; and

Whereas numerous states have made non-pharmaceutical marijuana products available for either medical or recreational uses. States permitting medical use only have wide variability in regulatory oversight. Many do not allow smoking of raw product or have other restrictions on mechanisms of consumption; and

Whereas there are numerous known harms from the use of cannabis products including addiction, mental illness, increased accidents, and smoking-related harms; and

Whereas there is not a clearly defined nor FDA approved “Medical Marijuana.” No federal insurance or other health insurance provider payments are available for its purchase; and

Whereas a ballot initiative has been introduced that will allow the public to vote on the legalization of medical marijuana in November of 2020 in Mississippi; and

Whereas the proposed amendment to the Mississippi State Constitution amendment would allow the use of marijuana for a very broad number of medical indications including such vague reasons as pain management, there would be no ability to restrict the mechanisms of consumption (i.e., edibles, combustible smoking), there would be no ability to control for the concentration of THC, or the proportion of THC to CBD, and any subsequent changes to the components of this amendment would have to occur through ballot measure rather than changes to state statute, and these products are not FDA approved, do not have standard dosing per unit of consumption, and are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence to support the claimed health benefits; and

Whereas, the proposed amendment would assign responsibilities to the Mississippi State Department of Health far beyond the scope and mission of the Agency, including oversight of agricultural production of marijuana, oversight of marijuana product processing and tax collection; and

Whereas, the consumption of any combustible inhaled product is harmful to individual health; and

Whereas, routine marijuana consumption has numerous known harms and is contrary to the mission of public health; and

Whereas the Ballot initiative would require the Mississippi State Department of Health to oversee a medical marijuana program that is beyond the capacity of the Department and would seriously harm the function of the Agency; and

Whereas the Mississippi State Board of Health does not believe it should be able to set tax rates and spend money without legislative authorization or oversight; and

Whereas the proposed ballot measure is a constitutional amendment, and as such is not subject to the oversight and management of the legislature and the Governor’s office; and any required changes to the proposed amendment would require additional ballot measures, rendering needed changes essentially impossible to achieve; and

Whereas Cannabis-based products have only four FDA approved prescriptions for existing medical indications and additional uses for cannabis products should be validated through scientific study and approved by regulatory authorities such as the FDA;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT

The Mississippi State Board of Health expresses its strong opposition to the Medical Marijuana 2020 Ballot Initiative; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED

that this Resolution be spread upon the minutes of the Mississippi State Board of Health and that copies of this Resolution be distributed to the members of the Mississippi Legislature and to the public.

ADOPTED THIS DAY THE 8TH DAY OF JANUARY 2020.

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Boil water alert for Claiborne County affects nearly 3,000 residents

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The Mississippi State Department of Health has issued a boil water notice affecting nearly 3,000 residents in Claiborne County.

The Pattison Water Association said its system lost pressure Thursday due to a power outage caused by yesterday’s storms. The precautionary boil water alert affects approximately 2,993 customers.

When a distribution system loses pressure, contaminants can siphon back into the water. Public health officials consider any system that loses pressure contaminated until tests prove otherwise. 

The MSDH recommends boiling water for one minute or using bottled water for washing fruits and vegetables, dish washing, drinking and brushing teeth. It is safe to shower, bathe and wash your hand as usual if no water is swallowed.

Visit the MSDH website for a complete checklist.

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New federal law raising minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 aimed at vaping

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(Photo by Sarah Johnson, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82597570)

The federal minimum age for buying tobacco products has been raised from 18 to 21 as part of the $1.4 trillion spending bill President Donald Trump signed Dec. 20.

The move has long been sought by anti-smoking advocates, but the dramatic rise of vaping among American teenagers and the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries accelerated its passage. The American Lung Association called it “an important policy win,” in a tweet.

The age limitation applies to e-cigarettes and cartridges in addition to more traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars.

Most smokers pick up the nicotine habit before they reach 21, and theoretically, the new age limitation will prevent young people from becoming addicted. In a statement to TIME magazine, the Lung Association called it an “easy way to protect children’s health and prevent future generations from getting hooked on nicotine.”

Nearly three of every 10 high school students report they have vaped in the past month, according to federal data cited by the White House. In September, the Trump administration announced it would “clear the market” of flavored vaping products aimed at young people.

“We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement.

The outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries began in June and peaked in September 2019. As of Dec. 17, 2,506 people have been hospitalized across the U.S. and 54 have died, including one in Mississippi.

Since September, the rate of new cases and deaths has slowed, but not stopped, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked most of the damage to vitamin E acetate and products containing THC. The investigation into the outbreak continues, however, as the CDC believes there may be more than one cause.

To date, 20 states have already raised the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21. The federal legislation, which goes into effect this summer, will expand it to the entire country.

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