Archives for the month of: November, 2010

Morning of November 30, 2010, there was an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 73 to 25 for passing of a newly revised Food Safety Modernization Act (PDF) in the U.S. Senate–which was first introduced back in 2009. The bill is sponsored by a Democratic senator Richard Durbin from IL. If the bill was to pass, it will give more power to the Food and Drug Administration in order to increase the regulation of food and other medical safety. The previous bill had already allowed powers to the secretary of Health and Human Services in order to have the sole control of overseeing the inspection of food safety and requiring food permit inspection for certain cases. More of the summary of the Food Safety Modernization Act (2009) that was passed can be read HERE.

The modified bill gives direct powers to the Food and Drug Administration specifically in regulating food products and also administering the imports and exports. The cost estimate of this food safety modernization act can be viewed HERE. If the bill is to pass, there will be an increase in financial fundings to the FDA. The new legislation will give the power to the FDA to directly recall food products rather than depending on the manufacturers to recall the products. Hopefully, this bill can decrease the numerous number of recalls and illnesses documented just this past year.

In response to the passing of the bill in Senate this morning, Office of the Press Secretary immediately released a statement for President Barack Obama. President Obama recognizes the importance of the passing of this Act and congratulates the Senate in their accomplishment. He is in approval with the Senate with their decisions in approving this Act and strongly recommends the House to follow suit. He believes that this is a step into the right direction especially with all the food recalls that we have been experiencing within this past year. More can be read HERE.

The graphic warning labels on cigarette boxes the FDA had proposed is still a hot topic within the media and in particularly within the local media. Let’s examine the three local news coverage just in the month of November.

An editorial, “Gross is good,” published in Buffalo News is in favor of the proposed graphic warning labels on the cigarette packages. The article explains that this is necessary in order to reduce the bad smoking habits in America. This idea can be clearly seen just by the title. The first sentence begins by giving their negative views on cigarettes in general. The editorial continues with the skepticism by criticizing how ineffective the current warning labels on the cigarette boxes. The article explains that even our neighboring country, Canada, has graphic warning labels on their cigarette packages. Several other countries have followed their footsteps because of the positive results that they have observed in encouraging smokers to be cautious of their addiction. The article fully supports the labels and even says that the United States has some catching up to do compared to the other countries in promoting the warning labels positively but effectively in order to reduce the increasing number of tobacco smokers.

Reported from Richmond, VA, WSOCTV has an article on their website titled, “Feds Proposes Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels written by an Associated Press tobacco writer Michael Felberbaum. To point out few of things I’ve noticed in this article is that the writer has embedded a video for the readers to easily have the access to the pictures of the cigarette boxes with graphic warning labels on them. Right below the video, the writer provides other related stories and links such as a slideshow of the pictures of the proposed warning labels, national smoking rates, and etc. As Buffalo News has mentioned (paragraph above), writer Michael Felberbaum also agrees that the warning labels will help reduce the numbers of smokers. He also gives additional evidence that the pictures will have a strong impact on the consumers by quoting a credible source such as David Hammond. He is a behavior researcher in Canada who also helps the FDA with designing their warning labels. This is very important that the writer cited a credible source in convincing the readers that the change committed by the FDA is a good thing.

The Columbus Dispatch presents similar news written by Bill Bush titled “New cigarette warning labels to be graphic.” The idea and the tone of the article is very similar to the two previous local news coverage discussed above. However, an interesting thing to notice in this particular report is that writer Bill Bush uses the local’s opinions to support his favorable views on the warning labels. Instead of citing credible sources such as researchers or government officials, the writer interviews the local people about their views on the warning labels of cigarette packages. He interviews a select range of people: a working class male on his usual smoke break, owner of an advertising company, and even the owner of a tobacco shop. He uses the opinions of the people in his report in order to get the message across to the readers that “everyone else” is agreeing to the warning labels and that it is normal to do so.

CBS News covers the news in their “Salmonella Scare Prompts Egg Recall” published by The Associated Press. The news covers the broad perspective of the on-going investigations of the egg recall since few months ago. Then it informs the readers of how the salmonella breakout started in Ohio. It also informs the public of who is responsible of this huge outbreak thanks to Austin Jack DeCoster who is the owner of the Wright County Egg. The interesting point to take from the media versus the FDA report is that the news media covers more of a dramatized coverage of how DeCoster is the culprit in spreading the salmonella due to his laundering with money, and listing the records of problems with the federal government concerning different issues in previous years.

In “Jack DeCoster’s Salmonella Touch: Another massive egg recall” written by Rady Ananda, a contributing writer posts in the activist post under conspiracy reports. In contrast to the CBS News coverage in the previous paragraph, Ananda scoldingly attacks Jack DeCoster for another massive salmonella outbreaks. The entire coverage backslashes DeCoster and his inappropriate behavior in handling his position as an owner of Wright County Egg. DeCoster has been involved in egg recalls due to several salmonella poisonings and also mentions that he has a long history of being in trouble with laws dealing with the environmental and labor. Overall, this activist writes in order to inform the readers and the public the corrupted owner of the Wright County Egg company and even though the FDA report does not mention his specific name, the activist is sure to write not only DeCoster’s name but about his previous run-ins with the law.

 

Refer to the original post of salmonella outbreak issued by the FDA, titled “Salmonella.”

Another recent salmonella update has been provided by the FDA. In their most recent news report states that “Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. Conducts Voluntary Egg Recall.” Cal-Maine Foods, Inc is located in Jackson, Mississippi which is currently the biggest company in charge of the distribution and packaging of egg shells. The actual suppliers of eggs come from Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC, located in Croton, Ohio. The problem was that Cal-Maine received an estimated of 24,000 dozen unprocessed eggs which were then shipped to an egg packaging company in Arkansas. These packaged eggs were then dispersed among eight retailers located in different states.This report lists which of the egg packagings have been included in the recall investigation. The report provides descriptions of the products and also the expiration dates that can be found on the egg cartons.

If you’re usually up-to-date on the news, you’ll notice that the cigarette warning labels has been a buzz in the media world. Another perspective to see how the media covers the proposed cigarette warning labels are these parody news media. PopHangover.com is website filled with pop culture satires. First of all, I happen to cross this website after googling, “cigarette warning label blogs.” After googling, I found this certain page titled, “Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels Coming,” written by one of the creators of the website, Jillian Madison. The blog mocks the FDA saying that graphic photos will not keep the numerous cigarette smokers to quit smoking instantly. The blog page consists of their version of pictures that should be used in order to keep the smokers from purchasing cigarettes. This form of new media is vastly used within the internet world. Many of the hard, serious news is formulated into a comical sense of jokes and laughter.

Another blog that I came across using google search is from a writer on blogspot. They wrote in their blog titled, “Should Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels Be Used on Other Hazardous Products?”. The blogger agrees with the FDA in labeling graphic pictures on the cigarette boxes in order to reduce the health hazardous that the American smokers are facing today. The blogger also continues on the with the idea of  putting labels on other hazardous items to the American people. And then concludes the blog with asking the reader what warning labels that they would like to see.

In more of a serious blogger, Rob Kasper from the Baltimore Sun opinion writes in his blog titled, “Scary Cigarette Labels“. He starts his opinion with a light mention of recent Stephen Colbert’s march on Washington. Then he continues with what the FDA is proposing to do with the warning labels. He questions whether or not if this is an effective way of really reducing the number of smokers. He points an interesting view that advertisements can be overly exaggerated to the point where its credibility is lost. The writer warns the FDA and other officials to be careful and not to over exaggerate the dangers of cigarettes because it could lose its credibility powers in influencing citizens to stop smoking. The writer ends in a skeptical manner by asking a question if these graphic images will stop the smokers from smoking. Also, the few comments made on this blog proses a questionable remarks of how ineffective the graphic images will be to those smokers.

In USA Today, Rita Rubin reports on the new action that FDA will be tackling in “FDA proposes graphic cigarette warnings” This report includes a video published from the Associated Press and has embedded links to the proposed images of the new warning labels. The reporter also states that Canada has already taken a step in this direction in 2000, when they placed graphics and a warning label on cigarette boxes. The reporter does not show a clear biased opinion when reporting on this issue however, Rubin does include supporting evidence that the new regulation of graphic warning labels could be a good thing.

The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that these news reports are categorized under the “Money” topics.

In The New York Times, Gardiner Harris writes in “F.D.A. Unveils Proposed Graphic Warning Labels for Cigarette Packs” a more of an in-dept story. It starts with the purpose of why the F.D.A might regulate a new warning label and then provides scary statistics of children to young adults who are regular smokers. It also provides the estimated number of deaths due to tobacco related health problems. The reporter also takes into consideration the business owners who are inclined to object to the warning labels which can cause a decrease in profits.

Rob Kasper, reporter from The Baltimore Sun, expresses his opinion in his report “FDA goes for gruesome on proposed tobacco warnings.” He is skeptical of the drastic measures that the FDA considering in changing the warning labels on cigarette packets. He questions whether or not this is really going to solve the smoking problems we have in the United States. Kasper talks about whether or not if this warning label is a scare tactic/advertisement in hopes to reduce smoking. Overall, the reporter is cynical and not entirely sold on the label warnings.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services published a news release where “HHS announces new tobacco strategy and proposed new warnings and graphics for cigarette packs and advertisements,” on November 10, 2010. They are issuing a new tobacco warning label on cigarette packets in hopes of reducing tobacco related-health hazards. The report emphasizes on raising an awareness, specifically targeting children to younger adults in order to strategically eliminate smoking at an early age. In the report, the HHS states shocking statistical informations on tobacco related health problems. The post also lists previous attempts of reducing the use of tobacco in past years. Then it continues to get across to the public that they are hoping by June 22, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will select nine pictures followed by warning messages that will be labeled on the cigarette boxes. And by October 22, 2012, tobacco companies will not be allowed to sell cigarettes if they do not have the new warning labels. The proposed warning graphics can be found HERE (pdf file). Read and stay in tune with the FDA on their “Proposed Cigarette Product Warning Labels.” The announcement of controlling tobacco use and their strategy of how to prevent the increasing number of health problems relating to tobacco can be viewed in the video below.

In the New York Times, Walt Bogdanich reports in “F.D.A. Urges Two Steps for Safer CT Scans” published in November 9, 2010. His first sentence insinuates that the FDA points fingers to the CT manufacturers for causing this mishap. Bogdanich also writes that the FDA official does not know exactly how many radiation overdoses there have been in the past years due to the vague standards of when it was appropriate to report overdoses.

The same news coverage of the CT scan can be found on the radio on WASU News Talk on 550 AM and 99.9 FM which was referred from Reuters by Julie Steenhuysen. The article, “FDA pushes to make CT diagnostic scans safer” has a positive outlook for the FDA. It is written in a positive tone implying that the FDA is working hard to issue safer regulations educating the people on how to use the machines accurately and effectively. It states that the FDA is hoping that these new changes will deter future problems. It then informs the public that the FDA is is doing their job by investigating what had actually happened, how and where it prosed a problem. The report also includes that the FDA is working with industry groups such as Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance in order to solve and prevent problematic issues in the future. The report acknowledges that the FDA is concerned and is well aware that the highest overdose in radiation is in the state of Alabama. Overall, in this particular coverage, the reporter is backing the FDA and informing the citizens that the government is doing their job by quickly investigating this situation and hopes to solve the issue and to diminish future problems.

In the National Public Radio (NPR) news, The Associated Press reports an interesting view in the “Feds Dismiss Misconduct Claims at FDA Device Unit” published in November 9, 2010. This report is very critical of the federal government for allowing the FDA to disregard the safety measures of the CT scans to the patients. The report attacks the government for not furthering their investigation with the FDA and states that this same problem happened last year and the case was reopened for investigation due to the requests from advocacy groups. It states as does the FDA original report, that the machines are safe to use, only if they are properly used.

Unlike, the FDA press reports, main-stream media reports on the specific manufacturers who are responsible in causing CT radiation overdoses. They also inform the public that there was never a strict guideline of when and how to report radiation overdoses. This raises few eyebrows of certain citizens. This is an example of why as citizens of America, it is our duty to be well-informed of the current events and to determine what the truth is among the ‘fluffs’ in the media.

 

The FDA issued a news report on November 9, 2010 stating that patients were exposed to high amounts of radiation from improperly used computed tomography brain scans.  The FDA then says that when properly used, the machine was in good working order. The FDA states that the high radiation the patients received was most likely due to the improper use of the machine. Due to this mishap, the FDA wrote a letter and will hold a discussion with the manufacturers in order to help reduce future problems. The report from the FDA can be found HERE.

Just after two days, the New York Times runs an article on a blog written by John C. Rudolf called “Gulf Seafood Is Safe, Officials Say.” The title itself expresses his skepticism of what the federal government has to say about the safety of the seafood in the gulf. The blog also quotes Margaret A. Hamburg who was quoted in the NOAA and FDA news report. However, the writer uses Hamburg’s comment against the federal government. The article expresses concern of the public’s health safety but also challenges and questions whether the government is telling the truth or hiding the facts.

The next day after the New York Times posts its blog, TIME publishes”Gulf Seafood Is Safe to Eat, FDA and NOAA Say,” written by Meredith Melnick. The article starts with a picture employers cleaning fresh looking white shrimp. It presents nothing but positive outlook on the safety of the seafood in the gulf. However, the first sentence of the article claiming a small percentage of the water is available for fishing. The media states the names of the director of the NOAA, scientists, the FDA, and even President Barack Obama as a reliable credentials in order to appeal to the readers. It is more interesting to read the comments of the article. Many of the readers commented and shared this article using Twitter. The tone of the commenters seem like the are mocking at the fact that the government announced that the seafood is safe to eat. What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: