Headlines July 20,2011
by Tony Kikendall
The World Health Organization will probably not reach its goal of eliminating polio by 2012, an independent study reports. The WHO has been working towards this goal since 1998. In order for polio to be eradicated 90% of children would have to be given vaccines in countries such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Roadblocks to this goal have included troubling political situations in countries with polio and mismanagement by the vaccinators themselves. Two previous goals have already been missed.
Beef from close to 500 cattle tainted by radiation has made its way to food sellers throughout Japan. The cattle were exposed to radiation through hay that itself had been exposed to radiation. Inadequate regulation was likely the cause of this oversight, as nothing more was done by the government after an original halt on shipments right after the Fukushima meltdown. Officials disagree as to the potential health effects of exposure to small amounts of cesium, the radioactive agent at issue.
Scientists at Tufts found that the calorie counts on restaurant menus were inaccurate in many instances. The researchers surveyed 42 restaurants and fast-food establishments in three states: Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Indiana. Perhaps contrary to expectations, the restaurants tended to underestimate the number of calories in low-calorie foods, such as soup or salad, while the foods with higher calories, such as pizza or steak, tended to have fewer calories than advertised. Last year's federal health care law mandates that restaurants with more than 20 locations to advertise food items' calorie counts on their menus, but there are no penalties for misreporting the data.
The Food and Drug Administration seeks to regulate smartphone apps which give medical advice. Regulators are concerned that if such devices are not regulated, they could pose a risk to the consumer by giving poor diagnoses. The FDA compared them to stents and other medical equipment.
Tony Kikendall is a rising second year law student at Boston University. Please feel free to email him with any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns.