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Here’s how to report your USA food problem directly to USDA or FDA

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Food Safety Month

Whenever you think you are seriously ill, see a doctor. And if you believe food caused your illness, make sure it is reported. Most foodborne illnesses are “reportable,” which means your doctor informs the local health department.

For example, if you had an outbreak in multiple states, you could become a “confirmed case”. Your confirmed test result will be reported to the health department, your name will be kept secret.

However, if you don’t want to take medical action, you can report your bad food experiences directly to federal regulators. Both the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the US Food and Drug Administration welcome consumer reports of contaminated or adulterated food.

But how?
Both FSIS and FDA explain how on their websites. With Food Safety Month coming to an end in September, Food safety news forwards this information along with some explanations to help consumers find the right agency. The FSIS and the FDA are responsible for protecting various segments of the food supply. If you have a problem with a food, be sure to contact the relevant health authority.

To reach them by phone:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) call 888-723-3366 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. Closed on Thursdays 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Before calling FSIS or FDA, it is important that you understand how the responsibilities of federal agencies are divided among the various agencies. The FDA, which has the most authority in these areas, provides an overview of their breakdown.

In general, the FDA regulates foods and other products as follows:

  • Food supplements
  • bottled water
  • Food additives
  • Baby food
  • other foods (although the U.S. Department of Agriculture plays a leading role in regulating some meat, poultry, and egg products)

The FDA also regulates medications, including:

  • prescription drugs (both branded and generic)
  • non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs

Biologics, including:

  • Vaccines for humans
  • Blood and blood products
  • Cell and gene therapy products
  • Tissue and tissue products
  • allergenic

Medical devices including:

  • simple items like tongue depressors and bed pans
  • complex technologies such as pacemakers
  • dental equipment
  • surgical implants and prosthetics

Electronic products that emit radiation, including:

  • Microwaves
  • X-ray machines
  • Laser products
  • Ultrasound therapy equipment
  • Mercury vapor lamps
  • sun lamps

Cosmetics, including:

  • Color additives in make-up and other personal care products
  • Moisturizers and cleansers for the skin
  • Nail polish and perfume

Veterinary products including:

  • fodder
  • Pet food
  • Veterinary medicines and devices

Tobacco Products Including:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigarette tobacco
  • Roll tobacco yourself
  • smokeless tobacco

By subject and subject, the FDA also has “functions” that relate to these federal agencies:

  • Advertising – The Federal Trade Commission is a federal agency that regulates many types of advertising. The FTC protects consumers by stopping unfair, fraudulent, or fraudulent practices in the market. Consumers can write to FTC at 6th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580; Telephone 202-326-2222.
  • Alcohol – The Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulates aspects of alcohol production, import, wholesale distribution, labeling and advertising. Consumers can write to TTB, 1310 G St. NW, Box 12, Washington, DC 20005; Phone 202-453-2000 or visit the TTB contact page.
  • Consumer products The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) works to ensure the safety of consumer products such as toys, cribs, power tools, lighters, household chemicals, and other products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. Consumers can direct written inquiries to CPSC, Washington, DC 20207. CPSC operates a toll-free hotline at 800-638-2772 or TTY at 800-638-8270 to enable consumers to report unsafe products or receive product information and recalls.
  • Drugs of Abuse – The Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is committed to enforcing United States controlled substance laws and regulations, including the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of legally manufactured controlled substances. Inquiries about DEA activities can be directed to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control 8701 Morrissette Drive Springfield, VA 22152; Telephone 202-307-1000.
  • Pesticides – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates many aspects of pesticides. The EPA sets limits on how much of a pesticide can be used on food during cultivation and processing, and how much can be left on the food you buy. Public inquiries regarding EPA should be directed to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs Public Docket (7506C), 3404, 401M St., Washington, DC 20460; Telephone 202-260-2080.
  • Vaccines against animal diseases The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Center for Veterinary Biologics, regulates aspects of veterinary vaccines and other types of veterinary biologics. Public inquiries regarding APHIS’s Center for Veterinary Biologics should be mailed to Center for Veterinary Biologics, 1920 Dayton Ave, PO Box 844, Ames, Iowa, 50010; Phone 515-337-6100 or visit the APHIS contact page.
  • water The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates certain aspects of drinking water. EPA develops national standards for drinking water from municipal water supplies (tap water) to limit the level of contaminants.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service regulates this the following:

FSIS regulates aspects of the safety and labeling of traditional (non-wild) meat, poultry, certain egg products and catfish. For a USDA investigation into an issue with these products, please provide:

  • The original container or packaging
  • Any foreign objects that you may have discovered in the product
  • Any part of the meal not eaten (chilling or freezing)

Here is the information the FSIS Hotline needs from you:

  1. Name, address and telephone number;
  2. Brand name, product name and manufacturer of the product
  3. The size and type of packaging
  4. Can or package codes (not UPC barcodes) and dates
  5. Establishment number (EST), usually found in a circle or sign next to the phrase “USDA passed and tested”;
  6. The name and location of the store and the date you purchased the product.
  7. You can complain to the store or the manufacturer of the product if you don’t file a formal complaint with the USDA.
  8. If an injury or illness is alleged to result from the use of a meat or poultry product, you must also inform the hotline staff about the nature, symptoms, time of occurrence and the name of the treating doctor (if applicable).

The FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, known as CFSAN, provides services to consumers, domestic and foreign industries, and other outside groups regarding field programs; Administrative tasks of the agency; scientific analysis and support; and policy, planning, and dealing with critical issues related to food, nutritional supplements, and cosmetics.

How to Report a Food Problem to the FDA

  • Please contact USDA for any questions or issues related to meat and poultry.
  • As a consumer, health professional or in the food industry, if you would like to voluntarily report a complaint or adverse event (illness or severe allergic reaction) related to a food, you have three options:
  • If you are a member of the food industry who is required to file a Reportable Food Register report when there is a reasonable likelihood that an article on food will cause serious health effects or death to people or animals, please visit the Reportable Food Register page.

How to Report Seafood Related Toxins and Sccombrotoxin Fish Poisoning Diseases

To help the FDA conduct effective investigations, remove unsafe seafood products from the market, and develop new prevention strategies, the FDA relies on disease reports from public health officials and health care providers. While most foodborne outbreaks are tracked through the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network, seafood-related diseases caused by natural toxins have a unique reporting mechanism.

To contact the FDA by email:
US Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Mediation and information center
5001 campus drive, HFS-009
College Park, MD 20740-3835

The FDA requests that products not be sent to this address.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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Health

Open up about barriers rural residents face in getting help for mental health

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We’re tight-lipped in the farmland. To suffer in silence seems to be the way we have been taught. But I think we need to acknowledge and address our problems. October 10th was World Mental Health Day and gave me a nudge. It’s okay to admit that we’re not okay. Write it down on a health questionnaire. Tell your doctor. Be honest and give voice to your mental health, not just for yourself but for those who love you, who need you.

Mental health is important for everyone, whether in cities or in the country. Photo by Kallie Coates / Grand Vale Creative LLC

In the city or in the country, we are alike when it comes to mental suffering and stigma. The difference is that those of us in non-urban areas face three additional mental health challenges. According to the Rural Health Information Hub, these challenges include:

  • Accessibility: “Rural residents often travel long distances to use services, are less likely to have psychiatric insurance and are less likely to recognize an illness,” says RHIhub. Personally, I’m insured, but if I keep an appointment I’ll take two to four hours off from work to attend. There have been instances where I’ve taken a full day off to do a 200-mile round-trip for a counseling appointment. Not all rural residents can change this schedule. Telemedicine options have been expanded by the pandemic. I hope telemedicine continues to improve mental health accessibility.
  • Availability: I love rural clinics and support them with routine health care. However, at the moment I have no possibility of psychological support in a rural health clinic. According to RHIhub, “there is a chronic shortage of mental health professionals and mental health providers are more likely to practice in urban centers.” I called an expert I had seen years ago after a new appointment and was told they were six would book up to a year for new dates. At first, I had empathy for the person who had to answer the phone and make appointments. Next, I thought of those in the mental health services industry who are unable to get in touch with everyone who wants to see them. We need more experts. I still want to see this professionally and personally. I will wait for your appointment. I will also see another professional on video sooner.
  • Acceptance: The first time I wrote about mental health in this column, I received feedback from someone who felt they knew me enough in real life to comment and say I had the mental health issues or the reality Not really familiar with the effects of mental illness is a family disease. She was wrong. I usually don’t stick with the haters or negative feedback, but it did for a while. Then came a person who personally thanked them for talking about mental health. Don’t let this stop you from seeking professional mental health help. “The stigma of needing or receiving psychiatric care and the limited selection of trained professionals who work in rural areas create barriers to care,” says RHIhub. We can break down barriers by saying that it is okay to seek psychological help for you or your loved ones.

Be honest and give voice to your mental health, not just for yourself but for those who love you, who need you, says Katie Pinke.  Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

Be honest and give voice to your mental health, not just for yourself but for those who love you, who need you, says Katie Pinke. Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

We are all affected by mental health problems. Unless you have any mental health problems or severe mental illness, you know someone who is. Add in a global health pandemic and we’re more isolated now than we were two years ago. Don’t be silent about mental health or serious mental illness. When someone confides in you, help them get in touch with professional help. Listen more than talk. Showing up with your presence is a difference maker.

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You are not alone. You are needed. You are loved. Your presence is a crucial part of someone’s community. I made a deliberate decision not to let the waves of fear swallow me up that I sometimes feel. I fight it with a network of support. I also know that a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, fresh air, quiet time in my beliefs, and a few things for myself that I enjoy have positive effects on my mental health.

Caring for our mental health is just as important as caring for our physical health. Let’s start by breaking down the rural mental health barriers of availability, accessibility, and acceptance by seeking the help we need regardless of the travel time, waiting time for appointments, or the stigma we need to overcome.

To read more of Katie Pinke’s The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the editor and managing director of Agweek. You can reach her at kpinke@agweek.com or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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Facebook should modify algorithms to make social media safer for teens

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Talk to a pediatrician and we will tell you: We are going through a mental crisis in teenagers. The pandemic has brought school closings and stay-at-home restrictions that resulted in social isolation among youth. With more than 721,000 COVID-19 deaths across the country, many teens know a deceased person personally and in some cases have even lost a parent.

Unsurprisingly, pediatricians like us are at the forefront of caring for more than twice as many teenagers struggling with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

With this in mind, social media giant Facebook – owner of Instagram, a platform used by more than half of teenagers in the United States – plays a key role. Amid these rising and unprecedented rates of mental illness among teenagers, will Facebook be part of the problem or the solution?

Instagram and eating disorders

Whistleblower and former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen recently testified before Congress that internal research by the company showed that Instagram may have worsened the mental health of young people. In these studies, teenage girls reported feeling worse about their bodies on Instagram, increasing eating disorders, and having thoughts of suicide more often.

We’ve seen examples of this at our own eating disorders clinic, where teenagers often tell us Instagram exposes them to posts that perpetuate unrealistic body shapes and share harmful diet tips.

Facebook’s internal research confirms a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center that shows 1 in 4 teenagers say social media negatively affects their lives because they experience bullying and harassment, unrealistic views about their lives Develop colleagues and get distracted from spending too much time online.

Again, these are concerns we often hear from teenagers in our practice. Such issues are likely to be compounded among teenagers who spend more time on social media, which is particularly worrying given that nearly 90% of teenagers who visit Instagram and other platforms do so several times a day.

This time of immense control presents Facebook with a pivotal opportunity to support, rather than hurt, teenage mental health. Legislators have proposed stepping in and regulating the platform, and as pediatricians we are inclined to support these measures if they are aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of teenagers. However, despite regulation, social media is likely to play a permanent role in teenage lives for years to come. Facebook should seize this moment to take action to clearly improve and support teenage mental health.

Larry Strauss:A teacher’s question: Social media harms my students, but do technical executives even care?

Perhaps most importantly, Facebook and other social media companies should reinforce healthy messages. In the same study by the Pew Research Center, 1 in 3 teenagers reported that social media had a positive impact on their lives, most often because it helped them connect with others or find important information.

However, algorithms in Facebook and Instagram – which are kept secret from public scrutiny – are based on how many people like, share and comment. This approach encourages bombastic, misleading, and unhealthy posts.

We need health-oriented algorithms

Instead, social media companies could specifically curate and actively promote messages about health and wellbeing. Numerous pediatric influencers (e.g. @teenhealthdoc, specialist in youth health in New York) already offer evidence-based advice and health information for adolescents and their families on Instagram and other platforms. Facebook could set up an advisory board of clinicians to assess the quality of influencers’ posts, offer health care providers a review (with the invaluable “blue check mark” that shows a user is authentic and remarkable), and make their posts accessible to a youthful audience do.

Social media companies should also encourage young people to post accurate, health-promoting content themselves.

Tom Kistenmacher:Facebook Revelations: Social Media Strengthened Our Voices, But Impaired Our Hearing

This approach would require Facebook to change its algorithms, which the company is likely to resist unless regulation enforced. Social media companies have come under constant fire for being too late to respond to misleading or harmful posts, which contributes to bad press and negative regulatory attention.

We claim that Facebook should be proactive in its approach and promote high quality content that is interesting to teens. Done right – with an infusion of creativity, thoughtful design, and humor – positive, health-promoting posts can receive a tremendous number of likes, shares, and comments, but may need to be actively promoted amid the negative messages currently prevailing. Realizing that it has a duty to block misinformation about COVID-19, Facebook must take similar steps to protect teenagers’ mental health.

Facebook can also help facilitate moderation in the use of its platforms among teenagers. The current business models of social media companies are driven by the persistent, compulsive use of their products and the advertising revenue they generate. In his credit, Facebook has imposed advertising restrictions on teenagers.

The company should build on this by helping teenagers put their smartphones down. To reduce screen time, Apple introduced Screen Time, an iPhone and iPad integration that allows parents to limit the time teens spend using social media apps. However, workarounds are easy to find for teenagers. Facebook should introduce its own functionality that would allow parents to limit teenagers’ use of its platforms.

We will address the after-effects of COVIC-19 on teenage mental health in the years to come. The reality is that while many of us pediatricians would like to remove social media from the lives of our teenage patients altogether, Instagram and other popular platforms are going nowhere. Social media companies wield tremendous power over young people. You should use it to empower – not hinder – the hard work we frontline pediatricians do to fight mental illness.

Dr. Scott Hadland is the Chief Medical Officer of Adolescent Medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School (@DrScottHadland on Twitter and Instagram). Dr. Kathryn Brigham is the medical director of the Teenage Eating Disorders Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School.

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Study finds a downward trend in buprenorphine misuse among U.S. adults with opioid use disorder

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Data from a nationwide representative survey shows that in 2019, nearly three-quarters of US adults who used buprenorphine had not abused the drug in the past 12 months. In addition, buprenorphine abuse among people with opioid use disorder declined between 2015 and 2019, although the number of people receiving buprenorphine treatment increased. The study, published today on the JAMA Network Open, was conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved drug used to treat opioid use disorders and to relieve severe pain. Buprenorphine, used to treat opioid use disorders, works by partially activating opioid receptors in the brain, which can help reduce opioid cravings, withdrawal, and general use of other opioids.

In 2020, more than 93,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses, with 75% of those deaths being caused by an opioid. In 2019, however, fewer than 18% of people with last year’s opioid use disorder were receiving medication to treat their addiction, in part because of stigma and barriers to accessing those medications. To prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorders, doctors must do so as part of a certified opioid treatment program or submit a letter of intent to the federal government, and the number of patients they can treat at the same time is limited. Only a small fraction of doctors are authorized to treat an opioid use disorder with buprenorphine, and even fewer prescribe the drug.

Quality medical practice requires the provision of safe and effective treatments for health conditions, including substance use disorders. This includes providing life-saving drugs to people with an opioid use disorder. This study provides further evidence of the need for expanded access to proven treatment approaches such as buprenorphine therapy, despite the remaining stigma and prejudice that persists in people with addiction and the drugs used to treat them. “

Nora D. Volkow, MD, NIDA director

In April 2021, the U.S. Department of Health released updated guidelines for buprenorphine practice to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders. However, barriers to the use of this treatment persist, including doctor’s discomfort in treating patients with opioid use disorder, the lack of adequate insurance coverage, and concerns about the risks of distraction, abuse, and overdose. Abuse is defined as patients taking medication in a manner not recommended by one doctor and may include consuming someone else’s prescription medication or taking their own prescriptions in larger quantities, more frequent doses, or for a longer duration than directed.

To better understand buprenorphine use and abuse, researchers analyzed data on prescription opioid use and abuse, including buprenorphine, from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2015-2019. The NSDUH is conducted annually by the Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. It provides representative data on prescription opioid use, abuse, opioid use disorder, and motivation for recent abuse in the civil, non-institutionalized US population nationwide.

The researchers found that nearly three-quarters of US adults who reported using buprenorphine in 2019 had not abused buprenorphine in the past 12 months. In total, an estimated 1.7 million people reported taking buprenorphine as prescribed in the past year, compared to 700,000 people who reported using the drug. In addition, the proportion of patients with opioid use disorder who have abused buprenorphine has tended to decline over the study period, although the number of patients who received buprenorphine treatment has increased recently.

Importantly, in adults with an opioid use disorder, the most common reasons for recent buprenorphine abuse were “because I am addicted to opioids” (27.3%), suggesting that people are using buprenorphine over the counter for self-treatment of cravings and withdrawal may have symptoms related to an opioid use disorder and “to relieve physical pain” (20.5%). In addition, adults who took buprenorphine were less likely to have buprenorphine abuse among those who received drug treatment than those who did not. Taken together, these results illustrate the urgent need to expand access to buprenorphine treatment, as receiving treatment can help reduce buprenorphine abuse. In addition, strategies need to be developed to further monitor and reduce buprenorphine abuse.

The study also found that people who did not receive drug treatment and those who lived in rural areas were more likely to abuse drugs. However, other factors, such as belonging to a racial / ethnic minority or living in poverty, did not influence buprenorphine abuse. The study authors suggested that addressing the current opioid crisis should improve both the access to and quality of buprenorphine treatment for people with opioid use disorder.

“Three-quarters of adults taking buprenorphine do not abuse the drug,” said Wilson Compton, MD, MPE, NIDA associate director and lead author on the study. “Many people with opioid use disorder need help, and as clinicians we need to treat their condition. Use disorder can access this life-saving drug.”

Source:

National Health Institute

Journal reference:

Han, B., et al. (2021) Trends and Characteristics of Buprenorphine Abuse Among Adults in the United States. JAMA network open. doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.29409.

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