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McDonald’s Faces Class Action over Happy Meals

McDonald’s Faces Class Action over Happy Meals

McDonald’s Corp. is facing a class action lawsuit that claims the fast-food giant baits young children into buying nutritionally poor meals.

California mother of two Monet Parham says she filed the lawsuit in conjunction with The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Wednesday in San Francisco. She believes the chain restaurant violates several consumer policy laws by marketing Happy Meals directly to young children.

“What kids see as a fun toy, I now realize is a sophisticated, high-tech marketing scheme that’s designed to put McDonald’s between me and my daughters,” Parham said, according to The Associated Press. “For the sake of other parents and their children, I want McDonald’s to stop interfering with my family.”

The suit doesn’t seek damages, but aims to convince the court to stop McDonald’s from advertising meals that contain toys to California children.

McDonald’s says it is ready to fight the suit.

“We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food,” company spokesperson Bridget Coffing said in a statement. “We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet.”

San Francisco recently barred the burger chain from including toys in meals with more than 600 calories or more than 35 of their calories from fat.

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said.

Steve Gardner, litigation director for the CSPI, says that a typical Happy Meal containing a cheeseburger, fries and a Sprite has 640 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat and nine teaspoons of sugar.

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Moderate Caffeine May Not Hurt Heart

SAN FRANCISCO, March 8 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say it is unlikely moderate caffeine increases heart arrhythmia risks.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., found those who reported drinking four or more cups of coffee daily had an 18 percent lower risk of hospitalization for heart rhythm disturbances and those drinking one to three cups each day had a 7 percent lower risk.

“Coffee drinking is related to lower risk of hospitalization for rhythm problems, but the association does not prove cause and effect, or that coffee has a protective effect,” lead author Dr. Arthur Klatsky said in a statement. “However, these data might be reassuring to people who drink moderate amounts of coffee that their habit is not likely to cause a major rhythm disturbance.”

Klatsky and colleagues looked at 130,054 men and women, ages 18-90 — with the majority age 50 and younger. About 2 percent — 3,317 participants — were hospitalized for rhythm disturbances. Fourteen percent in the study drank less than one cup of coffee a day, 42 percent drank one to three cups of coffee a day, 17 percent reported drinking four cups or more each day and about 27 percent were not coffee drinkers.

The findings were presented at a conference of the American Heart Association held in San Francisco.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Apples, Nuts, Oats Boost Immune System

URBANA, Ill., March 4 (UPI) — An apple a day may indeed keep the doctor away by reducing inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases, U.S. researchers say.

Gregory Freund, a professor at the University of Illinois, says soluble fiber found in oats, apples and nuts reduces inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases and strengthens the immune system.

“Soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cells — they go from being pro-inflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help us recover faster from infection,” Freund said in a statement.

Soluble fiber causes increased production of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-4, Freund said.

In the study, laboratory mice consumed low-fat diets that were identical except that they contained either soluble or insoluble fiber. After six weeks on the diet, the animals had distinctly different responses when the scientists induced illness by introducing a substance — lipopolysaccharide — that causes the body to mimic a bacterial infection.

“Two hours after lipopolysaccharide injection, the mice fed soluble fiber were only half as sick as the other group, and they recovered 50 percent sooner,” Freund said.

The study is published online ahead of print in the May issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Red Wine May Help Impede Cancer

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) — Derivatives of resveratrol — found in red wine grapes — may impede cancer cell development, U.S. researchers said.

The National Cancer Institute has teamed with a biotech firm to examine the potential benefit of resveratrol among cancer patients.

Dr. Bryan C. Donohue of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Shadyside Hospital, says early-stage clinical trials now under way are examining resveratrol’s effectiveness among patients with heart disease, cancer, dementia and a host of other modern illnesses.

In the meanwhile, some people simply looking for greater energy, enhanced clarity of thought and advanced overall well being are already benefiting from resveratrol supplementation, Donohue said.

“I have had occasion to introduce hundreds of patients to daily resveratrol supplementation, ranging from healthy adults interested in health maintenance and prevention to more elderly individuals with specific health concerns,” Donohue said in a statement. “People have experienced greater energy, increased exercise tolerance, crispness and clarity of thought and a general bounce in their overall level of well-being.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Overweight in Middle Age, Greater Decline

JONKOPING, Sweden, Feb. 24 (UPI) — The adverse affects of being overweight are not limited to physical function, but include cognitive decline as well, researchers in Sweden found.

Anna Dahl of Jonkoping University found people with higher midlife body mass index scores had significantly lower general cognitive ability and significantly steeper decline than their thinner counterparts over time.

These statistics were compiled from a study of Swedish twins that took place in the course of nearly 40 years, from 1963-2002; the results were the same for both men and women.

Study leader Alice M. Arnold of the University of Washington, Seattle, found such fluctuations are significant indicators of future physical limitations and mortality in the elderly.

Arnold and her colleagues used data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, which included information from more than 3,000 individuals age 65 and older from 1992-1999.

The researchers also discovered a history of cyclically losing and gaining weight increased a person’s chance of having difficulty with activities of daily living — bathing, dressing, eating, etc. — by 28 percent.

The findings are published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological and Medical Sciences.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Ketogenic Diet Seems OK Long-term

BALTIMORE, Feb. 22 (UPI) — There appear to be no long-lasting side effects from the anti-seizure high-fat low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, U.S. researchers suggest.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore say the ketogenic diet, which may trigger biochemical changes that reduce seizure-causing brain short circuits, has been used for infantile spasms and in children whose seizures cannot be controlled with drugs.

“Despite its temporary side effects, we have always suspected that the ketogenic diet is relatively safe long-term, and we now have proof,” study senior investigator Dr. Eric Kossoff said in a statement. “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet.”

Kossoff and colleagues looked at 101 patients ages 2-26 on the ketogenic diet for a minimum of 16 months and up to eight years between 1993 and 2008. The subjects kept to the diet from eight months to 14 years.

The study, published in Epilepsia, finds nearly 80 percent of the participants were either seizure-free or had their seizures reduced by one-half. One patient had high blood pressure. Two people had kidney stones — a similar rate to that of the general population, the study says.

Kossoff said he received grant support from Nutricia Inc. and consultant fees from Nutricia and Atkins Nutritionals Inc.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Cranberry Juice Boosts Heart Health

LONDON, Feb. 15 (UPI) — Researchers in London measured the cardio-protective potential of cranberry juice and found it may help lower blood pressure and help promote heart health.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London compared the cardio-protective potential of cranberry juice and that of red wine, cocoa and green tea and found that oligomeric procyanidins were present in regular and light cranberry juice cocktail.

Dr. Roger Corder of Queen Mary University identified oligomeric procyanidins in cranberries that can promote a healthy heart by inhibiting Endothelin-1 synthesis — a blood vessel constrictor that causes heart disease.

“Red wine has long been associated with heart health, but this new study shows that cranberry juice is a very promising alcohol-free alternative,” Corder, author of “The Red Wine Diet,” said in a statement. “We have now identified oligomeric procyanidins as the specific compound in cranberries that can boost the health of blood vessels, helping to prevent blood vessel constriction — a leading cause of high blood pressure.”

The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Packaged Salad Greens Can Contain Bacteria

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 3 (UPI) — Laboratory tests of 208 containers of 16 brands of salad greens sold last summer in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York found bacteria, some very high.

The report, published in the March issue of Consumer Reports and available online at www.ConsumerReports.org, assessed total coliforms and Enterocccous — “indicator organisms” found in the human digestive tract and in the ambient environment — that can signal inadequate sanitation and the presence of disease-causing organisms.

There are no existing federal standards for indicator bacteria in salad greens, but there are standards for these bacteria in milk, beef and drinking water.

Several industry consultants suggest an unacceptable level in leafy greens would be 10,000 or more colony forming units per gram. Thirty-nine percent of samples exceeded this level for total coliforms, and 23 percent for Enterococcus, Consumer Reports says.

The tests did not find E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella — potentially deadly pathogens that can be found in food — although it was not expected given the small sample size, the report says.

Many packages containing spinach, and packages within one to five days of their use-by date, had higher bacterial levels. Packages six to eight days from their use-by date generally fared better, Consumer Reports says.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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National Steak and Poultry Recalls 248,000 Pounds of Beef for E. Coli

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — National Steak and Poultry has recalled 248,000 pounds of beef products from six states because of a risk of E. coli, U.S. inspectors said.

The inspectors, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they linked meat from the plant to an outbreak of E. coli in the six states.

National Steak and Poultry, of Owasso, Okla., issued the recall in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Michigan, and Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a release.

The recall included products labeled National Steak and Poultry beef sirloin steak, boneless beef tips, boneless beef sirloin steak, savory sirloin tips, bacon wrapped beef filet, select beef shoulder, marinated tender medallions, Philly steak and boneless beef trimmings.

Each package contained a label marked “EST. 6010T” inside the USDA mark of inspection and packaging dates of Oct. 12-14 or Oct. 21.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Food & Nutrition, Food Consumption, Food Industry, Food Quality & Safety, Human Health & Wellness, Packaging0 Comments


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