Thursday, September 11, 2008

Low salt levels in ham and bacon risk botulism

Salty ham and bacon are keeping us healthy, according to meat firms protesting new salt-reduction targets. Meat manufacturers have rejected calls to cut salt levels in processed meats, claiming salt is used to prevent the deadly food bug botulism. The Food Standards Agency has called for salt content to be reduced to 2.13g per 100g by 2010 and to 1.75g by 2012. It suggested last month that 14,000 premature deaths a year could be avoided if adults reduced salt intake to just 6g a day. The current average is 8.6g per day, down from 9.5g in 2001.

But ham and bacon processors say the move will reduce the shelf life of products, and put customers off. A 10-slice packet of ham contains just under two teaspoons of salt. Claire Cheney, director-general of the Provision Trade Federation, representing leading processed meats companies and supermarkets said the targets were a potential health risk. She told The Grocer magazine: 'If you have not got sufficient preservative in a product like ham you get pockets where the salt levels are too low to prevent the formation of the botulism toxin. 'This will force us to reduce the shelf life further and with that come serious food safety concerns, not least the risk of botulism.'

She was backed by Elizabeth Andoh-Kesson, technical manager of the British Meat Processors Association. She said: 'We are very worried about the stricter targets and believe that reducing salt further has implications for food safety and the shelf life of products.'

Health campaigners have urged the FSA to stand firm, and resist pressure from the meat industry which is reluctant to change its manufacturing practices. Trade associations, including the 5billion pounds a year sandwich industry, complained consumers would find the taste of their products too bland without salt.


British park rangers ordered to stop and quiz adults spotted without children

They are one of the few remaining refuges from the hustle and bustle of urban life - the perfect spot for a sandwich away from the office or a gentle stroll in the fresh air. Except, it appears in Telford, Shropshire, where park staff have been ordered to stop and quiz people using the town's park who are not accompanied by a child. They face having to explain what they are doing in the park and could be thrown out by park wardens or reported to police if they remained unconvinced.

The local council - which manages the 170 hectare Telford Town Park - says the policy is a 'common sense approach' aimed at safeguarding children using the park and follows similar guidance to staff at its leisure centres and libraries. A spokesman said only those deemed to be 'acting suspiciously' would be stopped and questioned. But park users accused it of 'authoritarian madness' and said the ruling risked panicking parents about the dangers children faced from potential paedophiles.

The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change. Telford & Wrekin Council said Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park - a requirement under the Child Protection Act.

David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin's sports and recreation manager, said in a letter to a member of the public over that issue: 'Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there. 'In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather, such as play facilities and the entrances to play areas. This is a child safety precautionary measure which members of staff will continue to undertake as and when necessary.'

Miss Whittaker, 34, from Wellington, near Telford, said the policy carried a 'dangerous implication that if you have a child with you than everything is okay and you won't be questioned.' She added: 'It is dangerous as well as frightening people, it could start a hysterical society and punishes people who have done nothing wrong while giving an outlet for those with sinister motives a way of getting around it.'

Park user Edna Pearson, 70, part-time pub worker, yesterday said the policy was 'over the top'. Mrs Pearson said: 'It's the men you feel sorry for - unless you have got a dog with you, you cannot go for a walk anywhere on your own any more. 'Kids shouldn't be left by themselves anyway and some paedophiles have children with them.'

Former childcare social worker John Evans said: 'It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It is absurd, it is insulting and what's more it is dangerous as it panics people about the dangers their children face.' Adrian Voce, director of Play England, a lottery-funded branch of the National Children's Bureau which advises local authorities on child play provision, said the policy appeared 'odd' and the authority's guidance to park wardens may have been 'excessively cautious'.

The park, situated close to the town centre, is the only staffed park in the borough and is well used by office workers in their lunch hours. It also has a popular children's play area, woodland walks and a mini road train for families to enjoy. Ron Odunayia, Director of Community Services at the council, said: 'We are not talking about a blanket policy covering everybody who enjoys our Town Park. 'However, if someone is acting in a suspicious manner or acting in an inappropriate way then, of course, our staff reserve the right to asks questions. 'Our approach is in certain circumstances where an individual's behaviour is deemed strange or suspicious rather than as a general rule.'

Councillor Denis Allen, cabinet member for community services, added that as landowner of the park, the Tory-run authority had child protection responsibilities and a duty of care. He said anyone approached would be treated 'sensitively, and in a fair and even-handed manner', but confirmed that the police or child protection services would be informed, if appropriate.


A nasty British school bullies handicapped kid

But publicity has them spinning. It's a government funded school with pretensions to quality. Sounds like it's just pretentious

Since losing his hair to a serious illness as a young child, Dale Platts and his baseball cap have become inseparable. The New York Yankees hat has not only helped the 13-year-old to cope with the cruel taunts of other children, but also protects his head and lashless eyes from the sun. But the schoolboy has now been ordered to remove the cap after his school decided it went against its uniform policy. Dale - who was warned that he would be taught in isolation if he refused - is now at home and missing classes.

His mother, Kenina Platts, 41, said: 'It's really cruel. I'm outraged the school can be so short-sighted. He wears the hat for medical reasons - it's not a fashion statement. 'Dale has to suffer at the hands of child bullies. Now the school itself is pressurising him and bullying him. He is too ashamed to take it off. 'To say he would be taught in isolation is madness. It is like putting him in solitary confinement. It is punishing him for being bald.'

Dale lost his hair, toenails and fingernails when he was five months old after suffering from severe bronchiolitis, a respiratory virus that left him in hospital for a week. During the illness, his immune system began to attack parts of his body, including his hair follicles, stopping the hair and nails from growing - a condition known as alopecia universalis. Dale lost his hair at five months old after suffering from bronchiolitis. The condition is the most severe form of alopecia, affecting one in 100,000 people, including Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas.

However, Dale, of Collingham, Nottinghamshire, was unconcerned by his baldness until he started secondary school aged 11 and the bullying began. He has had items thrown at his head and been taunted with cruel names and chants. He has not left his bedroom without wearing his baseball hat for two years. But at the end of last term, Maggie Brown, the deputy head of Robert Pattinson School in North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, told him the cap contravened its dress code.

Although he has been told he can wear a beanie hat as a compromise, Dale has complained the woolly hat causes eczema and headaches, and does not offer the same protection-against harsh fluorescent lighting and dust as his cap. He was sent home last Thursday, the first day of the new school term. Dale said: 'I just want to go to school and get no bother.'

A spokesman for the school said its uniform policy does not allow peaked caps or hoodies, but some allowances could be made for medical or religious reasons. In Dale's case, the school said it believed the family had agreed the teenager would wear a beanie hat.


More NHS bungling

How can they confuse lung disease and cancer of the liver?

When doctors told Andy Lees he had no more than six weeks to live he set about the sombre task of preparing for his death. He divided his œ18,000 life savings among his nearest and dearest, leaving enough to pay for his funeral. Then he waited for the cancer to take him. But a year later Mr Lees is still in the land of the living - and has just been told he does not have cancer after all. Now penniless, the 72-year-old is planning to sue the hospital which wrongly diagnosed the terminal illness.

He said: `The doctors told me I had cancer of the liver and the lungs, I had only four to six weeks to live and there was nothing they could do for me. `But they've now said they were wrong and, although I'm still very ill, I'm not dying. `I've given away my life savings because I didn't think I'd need it. Now I'm absolutely skint.'

Mr Lees gave his four sons and his daughter œ1,000 each and told them to use it as they wished. Two grandchildren received œ2,000 each while a further œ3,000 was divided among friends. To ensure he would not be a burden on his family after he was gone, he paid œ6,000 for his funeral and headstone. To make matters worse, the headstone was placed at the spot where he was to be buried at the cemetery near his home in Blackburn, West Lothian. He later asked for it to be removed. He said: `Discovering your own tombstone is quite an experience.'

Mr Lees was taken to St John's Hospital in Livingston last year after lapsing into a diabetic coma. Doctors carried out tests and told him he was dying of cancer, but after several return visits to the hospital they have changed their diagnosis. Now they say he is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes the airways to narrow.

Mr Lees said his family were shattered when they heard the initial diagnosis. He said: `My family and I went through hell.' Now the pensioner is housebound and unable to afford the mobility scooter he needs. NHS Lothian medical director Dr Charles Swainson said: `We have met Mr Lees and his family and apologised for any distress caused.' [Big deal!]

Undertakers William Grieve and Son said Mr Lees had specifically asked for the headstone to be put in place when he made his funeral arrangements.


British PM triggers row with John McCain: "Gordon Brown has triggered a potential row with John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, after apparently backing Barack Obama - breaking convention not to get involved in foreign elections. The Prime Minister heaped praise on Mr Obama and the Democrats in a magazine article, saying they were "generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times." Dealing with economic problems is the crucial battleground in the US elections and Mr Brown's comments were interpreted as backing the Democrat candidate. It sparked a flurry of activity among The Prime Minister's office and the British Embassy in Washington were last night involved in an embarrassing behind-the-scenes operation to try and limit the fallout from the incident. They were alerted after the highly influential Drudge Report website picked up the story, sparking a flurry of comment and analysis from election watchers in the US. Well-placed sources claimed that Mr Brown may not have read the article written in his name by a "junior Labour official".

Major companies fleeing Green/Left Britain: "Already struggling with an economy on the brink of recession and a record budget deficit, Britain's government is facing another problem: how to stop an exodus of British companies fleeing the local tax regime. In the past week alone, three British companies have announced plans to move their head office abroad before the end of the year, unhappy about a lack of clarity about future tax rules and eager to cut their tax bill. Henderson Group, an asset management firm, and engineering company Charter plan to move to Ireland. Regus Group, the office space provider, is leaving for Luxembourg and at least two more companies, advertising agency WPP Group and insurer Brit Insurance, said they might follow. The moves provoked hefty discussions among lawmakers and business representatives about the competitiveness of Britain's corporate tax system. The moves also came at the worst time for the government, which is already expected to lose billions of pounds in tax revenue from financial services companies burdened with losses from the credit crunch".

Britain: Mothers 'should be paid to stay home with their children': "Mothers should receive financial help of up to $12,000 a year to stay at home and care for their babies and toddlers, according to a report which says that nurseries fail to provide the one-to-one adult interaction children need. Too many parents of babies and toddlers are being forced back to work by financial pressure and government policy when they would prefer to stay at home during their offspring's earliest years, according to the research by a think-tank chaired by the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. Many of society's problems, such as knife and gun crime among teenagers, alcohol and drug abuse and poor mental health can be traced back to parental neglect when children were very young, said the Centre for Social Justice. Its recommendation was based on "compelling" research in psychology and neuroscience"

No comments: