US import safety panel calls for risk-based monitoring

first_img Mike Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), led the investigation and presented the report to the president on Sep 10. In a letter that accompanied the report, Leavitt wrote that the United States must shift from a “snapshot” approach of stopping unsafe products at the border to a “video” model that identifies critical points in an imported product’s life cycle. Because state and federal agencies don’t use integrated information-sharing systems, crucial information on imports is sometimes missed, the report says. For example, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) import inspection data system is not connected to the system used by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Jun 28 CIDRAP News story “Drugs in Chinese seafood trigger FDA import ban” Sep 12, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – A cabinet-level working group assigned by President Bush in July to explore import safety issues issued its initial report recently, suggesting a risk-based monitoring strategy and calling on government agencies to use technology to improve collaboration on import-related activities. Bush’s actions were prompted by several recent product safety problems that surfaced over the summer and involved Chinese imports. Food-related incidents involved melamine-contaminated wheat gluten that was used in animal and fish feed, and seafood that contained residues of unauthorized veterinary drugs. See also: Another challenge that government officials need to address is companies and individuals that circumvent US restrictions on certain imports. For example, the working group found that in 2006 CBP intercepted 45 containers of chicken, chicken parts, and other meat products that were smuggled into the country as frozen seafood. Leavitt said in his letter that over the next several weeks the working group will gather comments and recommendations from the public. In mid November the group will follow up with an action plan that will contain several short- and long-term recommendations. “Such a risk-based, prevention-focused model will help ensure that safety is built into products before they reach our borders,” Leavitt wrote. “This lack of connectivity between CBP and USDA systems has created the possibility, which is now being addressed, for imported products to enter domestic commerce without being inspected in accordance with federal requirements,” the report states. Jul 20 CIDRAP News story “FAO, WHO urge vigilance in light of recent food scares”last_img read more

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H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Sick-leave policies, spring-wave protection?, vaccine updates, Web resources

first_imgOct 8, 2009Lack of paid sick leave could spread fluA lack of paid sick leave could force working parents either to report to work sick with flu or to send their children to school sick, at the risk of sacrificing either income or their jobs, ABC News reports. Up to 54 million Americans, many of them self-employed or employees of small businesses, have little or no paid sick leave, an issue that advocates hope to bring before Congress.http://abcnews.go.com/Health/SwineFluNews/unpaid-sick-days-leave-parents-tough-choices-flu/story?id=8775513Oct 7 ABC News reportSpring wave may have given NYC some protectionNew York City and a few other cities that had big H1N1 outbreaks in the spring are seeing little activity now, leading to suggestions that the spring wave spawned a significant level of population immunity, the New York Times reported today. City health officials believe that perhaps 20% to 40% of the population were exposed to the virus in the spring and gained immunity. But city officials and other experts agreed it would be unwise to assume that New Yorkers don’t need the H1N1 vaccine.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/health/08flu.html?ref=healthOct 8 New York Times storyThird of parents may say no to kids’ vaccineConcerned over the new H1N1 vaccine, or unconcerned about the seriousness of the disease, 38% of parents say they are unlikely to permit their children to be vaccinated during school programs planned by many states, according to an Associated Press (AP)-GfK poll. Federal health officials vouched for the vaccine’s safety, urging widespread inoculation. Among concerns are the newness of the vaccine and potential side-effects.Oct 7 AP storyNew Web resources for individuals, familiesThe federal government’s www.flu.gov Web site has two new features, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced yesterday. A self-evaluation section for adults offers a click-through assessment aimed at determining whether flu is or is not present, followed by guidance on self-care, preventing transmission, and warning signs of serious disease. “Flu Myths and Facts” provides accurate refutations of common misconceptions about vaccinations and the disease itself.http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/10/20091007a.htmlOct 7 HHS news releaseCDC unveils system to gather data on flu-like illnessThe CDC today announced the launch of a system to gather data about influenza-like illness (ILI) from syndromic surveillance systems run by health departments in cooperation with hospital emergency departments. The system, called Distribute, enhances existing flu surveillance by providing more details on geographic- and age-specific trends, the agency said. The system involves a partnership of the CDC with the International Society for Disease Surveillance and the Public Health Informatics Institute.http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5839a5.htmCDC announcement in Oct 9 MMWRCanadian H1N1 vaccination to lag US by weeksCanada’s national campaign to vaccinate residents against the H1N1 flu is likely to begin in early November because attempts to move up the shots’ delivery have not been successful, according to the Canadian Press. The US campaign uses multiple suppliers and began with a roll-out of aerosol vaccine; Canada uses only one manufacturer, and aerosol vaccine is not approved for sale there.Oct 6 Canadian Press reportMichigan man recounts 7-week H1N1 battleA Michigan man who barely survived a battle with the H1N1 virus is expressing support for the vaccination campaign, according to ABC News. Jim Shrode, 53, was in excellent health before he fell ill with the virus in May. He was hospitalized for 7 weeks, required mechanical ventilation, and lost 37 pounds. “People need to know that the risks of the vaccine are minimal compared to the risks if you get ill with it,” he said.http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/surving-swine-flu/story?id=8777207Oct 8 ABC News reportlast_img read more

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