Connect with us

Health

Europe skewered by kebab fight

Who knew dürüm could cause so much sturm und drang?

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote in the European Parli..

Who knew dürüm could cause so much sturm und drang?

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote in the European Parliament over how the meat is produced, one side said it was fighting for the very existence of the late-night snack so beloved by the overserved and underfinanced. The other side claimed the mantle of public health and protecting consumers from deceitful practices.

“We do not want kebabs to be banned, but we want them to be healthy,” an S&D Group press release proclaimed. It sounds like an ambitious goal for a delicacy known for salty mystery meat combinations that clock in at over 1,000 calories.

But this legislation was not about kebab’s broader nutritional value. It was about the food additive phosphoric acid.

In fact, Wednesday’s vote was unlikely to change kebab production, whatever the result. The outcome helps move the standard practice out of a legal gray zone.

Phosphates are widely used in frozen kebabs to help cook them evenly and to keep the meat moist. The practice is not technically legal in the EU — but member countries haven’t typically enforced this rule.

The Commission proposed allowing the use of phosphates in “frozen meat vertical meat spits,” a plan that the Parliament failed to block by a three-vote margin.

The issue stems from industry’s request a few years ago for explicit permission to continue adding phosphates to frozen kebab meat. The Commission recently decided they had a point, and proposed adding kebab meat to the list of products that can use phosphates.

Greens and S&D members narrowly failed to block that in Wednesday’s vote.

The European People’s Party claimed to be defending the humble sandwich against the “kebab ban,” according to a press release ahead of the vote.

“Parliament is not voting to ban anything,” an FAQ produced by the Parliament’s own press service clarified.

Still, German European People’s Party MEP Renate Sommer warned of dire consequences. Without the additive, “meat in fast food restaurants would collapse into the form of an elephant foot,” Sommer said in a statement Wednesday. She hinted at economic collapse in a Facebook post last month. About 80 percent of döner skewers consumed in the EU come from Germany, Sommer said. Killing the kebab could cost 110,000 jobs, she warned.

Food safety activists reject these arguments as scaremongering. Instead, they point to studies linking high-phospate diets to heart problems and kidney disease. The Parliament’s objection text also champions the cause of discerning European consumers, even those stumbling into the only shop open for a €4 meal after a night of heavy drinking. Phosphate holds onto water, which could increase the weight of meat, the measure argues, “thereby allowing food business operators to intentionally mislead consumers and commit fraud by selling water for the price of meat.”

Sommer argues that phosphate consumption from kebab is “negligible” — people get more from Coca-Cola. Then again, the EU’s scientific basis for signing off on phosphate levels is 26 years old. After failing to reach a definitive conclusion a few years ago, the European Food Safety Authority is expected to issue a fresh opinion in late 2018.

“What we are simply doing is asking the Commission to wait one year,” said MEP Miriam Dalli, the S&D Group’s health spokesperson. If phosphate does turn out to be dangerous, kebab-makers can switch to alternatives on the market, she argued.

Disappointed NGOs signaled that the next round of the fight will be around labeling.

“Now we need member states to require that kebab vendors clearly inform consumers on the presence of phosphates in their meat through labeling and check they do so,” said Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). “That’s the very least they should do.”

Original Article

Politico

The post Europe skewered by kebab fight appeared first on News Wire Now.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Health

Monkeypox: First deaths outside Africa in Brazil and Spain

Brazil and Spain have reported their first monkeypox deaths.

A 41-year-old man in Brazil became the first fatality from the virus outside Africa. Spain announced two deaths soon afterwards – the first in Europe.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

But infections are usually mild and the risk to the general population is low.

On Friday Brazil’s health ministry said the victim there had suffered from lymphoma and a weakened immune system, and “comorbidities aggravated his condition”.

Brazil has so far reported 1,066 confirmed cases and 513 suspected cases of the virus. Data from Brazil’s health ministry indicates that more than 98% of confirmed cases were in men who have sex with men.

Shortly afterwards, Spain’s health ministry confirmed Europe’s first death from the virus – a patient who suffered from encephalitis.

A second death linked to monkeypox was confirmed by Spanish authorities on Saturday.

The health ministry said that of 3,750 monkeypox patients with available information, 120 or 3.2% had been hospitalised.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 21,148 cases worldwide.

The monkeypox virus is a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less severe and experts say chances of infection are low.

It occurs mostly in remote parts of central and west African countries, near tropical rainforests.

Health officials are recommending people at highest risk of exposure to the virus – including some gay and bisexual men, as well as some healthcare workers – should be offered a vaccine.

Last week, WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said declaring the outbreak a global health emergency would help speed up the development of vaccines and the implementation of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Dr Tedros said the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally, but high in Europe.

But, he added, “this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups”. The WHO is issuing recommendations, which it hopes will spur countries to take action to stop transmission of the virus and protect those most at risk.

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-62350022

Continue Reading

Health

Covid: Woman caught virus twice within record 20 days

A 31-year-old healthcare worker caught Covid twice within 20 days – the shortest-known gap between infections, Spanish researchers have claimed.

Tests show the woman was infected with two different variants – Delta in late December and then Omicron in January.

This shows that even if you have had Covid before, you can still be infected again even if fully vaccinated, the researchers say.

Reinfections in the UK require 90 days between positive tests.

Based on that definition, health officials say nearly 900,000 people have potentially been infected twice with Covid up to the start of April.

It is difficult to pin down an exact number, because only whole genome sequencing can confirm the infections are caused by different strains, and very few positive tests go through this process.

The Spaniard did not develop any symptoms after her first positive PCR test, but less than three weeks later she developed a cough and fever which prompted her to take another test.

When the tests were analysed further, they showed the patient had been infected by two different strains of coronavirus.

In a presentation at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, study author Dr. Gemma Recio said the case highlighted that Omicron can “evade the previous immunity acquired either from a natural infection with other variants or from vaccines”.

She said: “In other words, people who have had Covid-19 cannot assume they are protected against reinfection, even if they have been fully vaccinated.

“Nevertheless, both previous infection with other variants and vaccination do seem to partially protect against severe disease and hospitalisation in those with Omicron,” added Dr Recio, from the Institut Catala de Salut, Tarragona in Spain.

She said monitoring reinfections in people who were fully vaccinated was important, and would help the search for variants which evade vaccines.

Covid reinfections rose sharply in December 2021 after the much more infectious Omicron variant emerged, and there was another increase when a slightly different version of it, called BA.2, appeared in early March.

Before that, 1% of all cases recorded in the UK were labelled as second infection – but that has now gone up to 11%.

Most are likely to be people infected by the Alpha or Delta variants and then infected again by the more contagious Omicron.

Scientists predict that eventually everyone will catch Covid twice, and probably many more times over the course of their lifetime.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-61161529

 

Continue Reading

Health

Poverty, crime linked to differences in newborns’ brains

Poverty and crime can have devastating effects on a child’s health. But a new study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that some environmental factors influence the structure and function of young brains even before babies make their entrances into the world.

A study published online in the journal JAMA Network Open found that MRI scans performed on healthy newborns. At the same time, they slept indicated that babies facing social disadvantages such as poverty tended to be born with smaller brains than babies whose mothers had higher household incomes.

MRI scans of full-term newborns born to mothers living in poverty revealed smaller volumes across the entire brain — including the cortical grey matter, subcortical grey matter and white matter — than found in the brains of babies whose mothers had higher household incomes.

The brain scans, conducted only a few days to weeks after birth, also showed more miniature folding of the brain among infants born to mothers living in poverty. Fewer and shallower folds typically signify brain immaturity. The healthy human brain folds as it grows and develops, providing the cerebral cortex with a more extensive functional surface area.

A second study of data from the same sample of 399 mothers and their babies — this one published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry — reports that pregnant mothers from neighbourhoods with high crime rates gave birth to infants whose brains functioned differently during their first weeks of life than babies born to mothers living in safer neighbourhoods.

Functional MRI scans of babies whose mothers were exposed to crime displayed weaker connections between brain structures that process emotions and structures that help regulate and control those emotions. Maternal stress is believed to be one of the reasons for the weaker connections in the babies’ brains.

“These studies demonstrate that a mother’s experiences during pregnancy can have a major impact on her infant’s brain development,” said Christopher D. Smyser, MD, one of the principal investigators. “Like that old song about how the ‘knee bone is connected to the shin bone,’ there’s a saying about the brain that ‘areas that fire together wire together.’ We’re analysing how brain regions develop and form early functional networks because how those structures develop and work together may impact long-term development and behaviour.”

Babies in the study were born from 2017 through 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Smyser, a professor of neurology, paediatrics and radiology, said that babies are fed when they arrive for scans because they tend to fall asleep after eating to scan newborns during the first few weeks of life successfully. They are then snugly swaddled into blankets and a device that helps keep them comfortable and still. The brain scans take place while they sleep.

In the study involving the effects of poverty, the researchers focused on 280 mothers and their newborns. First author Regina L. Triplett, MD, a postdoctoral fellow in neurology, had expected to find that maternal poverty — referred to in the paper as a social disadvantage — could affect the babies’ developing brains. But she also expected to see the effects of psychosocial stress, which includes measures of adverse life experiences and anxiety and depression.

“Social disadvantage

affected the brain across many of its structures, but there were no significant effects related to psychosocial stress,” Triplett said. “Our concern is that as babies begin life with these smaller brain structures, their brains may not develop as healthy as the brains of babies whose mothers lived in higher-income households.”

In the second study, which implicated living in high-crime neighbourhoods as a factor in weaker functional connections in the brains of newborns, first author Rebecca G. Brady, a graduate student in the university’s Medical Scientist Training Program, found that unlike the effects of poverty, the results of exposure to crime were focused on particular areas of the babies’ brains.

“Instead of a brain-wide effect, living in a high-crime area during pregnancy seems to have more specific effects on the emotion-processing regions of babies’ brains,” Brady said. “We found that this weakening of the functional connections between emotion-processing structures in the babies’ brains was robust when we controlled for other types of adversity, such as poverty. It appears that stresses linked to crime had more specific effects on brain function.”

Reducing poverty and lowering crime rates are well-established goals in public policy and health. And the researchers believe protecting expectant mothers from crime and helping them out of poverty will do more than improve brain growth and connections in their babies. But if social programs that aim to help people reach their full potential are to succeed, the researchers said the policies must focus on assisting people even before they are born.

“Several research projects around the country are now providing money for living expenses to pregnant mothers. Some cities have determined that raising pregnant mothers out of poverty is good public policy,” Smyser said. “The evidence we’re gathering from these studies certainly would support that idea.”

 

Read from: https://www.technology.org/2022/04/13/poverty-crime-change-newborns-brains/

Continue Reading

Trending