Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

Botulism scare over Fonterra milk products a false alarm

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2013 at 2:42 am

Botulism scare over Fonterra milk products a false alarm

New tests of Fonterra milk products show no sign of botulism contamination

A botulism scare that sparked global recalls of Fonterra milk products was a false alarm and there was never any danger to consumers, New Zealand officials said after new tests.

The crisis led to infant formula being taken off shelves from China to Saudi Arabia earlier this month and damaged New Zealand’s “clean, green” reputation in key Asian markets.

However, New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries said a barrage of tests ordered after it sounded the alarm confirmed a contaminant was not the potentially fatal clostridium botulinum – a bacterium that produces several toxins – but a milder bug called clostridium sporogenes – a harmless soil-dwelling bacteria.

“It is therefore not capable of producing botulism-causing toxins,” the ministry said. “There are no known food-safety issues associated with clostridium sporogenes, although at elevated levels certain strains may be associated with food spoilage.”

It said the initial tests had pointed to botulism contamination but subsequent checks on a further 195 samples in laboratories in New Zealand and the United States showed no sign of the bacteria. “We are very, very relieved that this is not a food-safety issue and that none of the children in the world were affected by this event,” said Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said the administration needed time to study the findings before allowing recalled whey protein powder to be used in production again.

Beijing did not say whether it had carried out its own tests. But Dumex, a dairy product brand under Fonterra, said Shanghai’s quality watchdog informed it on Tuesday that tests by mainland authorities showed that none of the 14 batches of the recalled products were contaminated.

Song Liang , a dairy industry analyst at the Ministry of Commerce, said the new findings would ensure baby formula from New Zealand gradually returned to the market.


More Moms Are Breast-Feeding, But Many Babies Still Miss Out

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2013 at 2:39 am

More Moms Are Breast-Feeding, But Many Babies Still Miss Out

by Nancy Shute
July 31, 201311:55 AM

Three quarters of new mothers gave breast-feeding a try in 2010, and mothers are sticking with breast-feeding longer, according to federal data.

Almost 50 percent of babies are still being breast-fed at least sometime at 6 months of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 35 percent in 2000.

The number of babies breast-feeding at 12 months also rose, from 16 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010. Go moms!

Breast-fed babies are less likely to have ear infections and diarrhea as infants, and less likely to be obese and have diabetes as adults. But public health officials haven’t always been successful at getting that out. For instance, many parents don’t realize that breast milk remains better for babies than formula, according to a 2011.

The American Academy of Pediatrics that mothers breast-feed for 12 months, and the World Health Organization breast-feeding for up to two years.

And perhaps because breast-feeding is considered natural, many women don’t get learning proper technique and dealing with common breast-feeding issues.

Multiple studies have found hospitals and birth centers often sabotage women’s efforts. For instance, one-quarter of hospitals and birth centers give at least half of healthy breast-feeding newborns formula, according to the , and almost three-quarters give breast-feeding mothers “welcome packs” that include formula.

The CDC’s released Wednesday says that hospitals should do two key things to help new mothers breast-feed: Let babies “room in” with mothers and make sure mothers have skin-to-skin contact with newborns.

Babies who are held against their mother’s skin stay warmer and are better able to latch on and nurse. The number of hospitals where newborns were skin-to-skin with the mother rose from 41 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2011.

The number of hospitals reporting that babies “room in” at least 23 hours a day rose from 30 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2011, the report says. But that still means that two-thirds of babies are kept in a nursery or otherwise far from Mom.


Dozens Die in North Asia Heat Wave as Power Supply Strained

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2013 at 1:55 am

Dozens Die in North Asia Heat Wave as Power Supply Strained
By Sungwoo Park & Chisaki Watanabe – Aug 13, 2013 2:46 PM GMT+0800

Record temperatures across North Asia have killed dozens and pushed electricity grids to near breaking point, forcing governments to introduce emergency measures as more of the same heat is forecast.

Air-conditioning in South Korea’s public buildings has been shut off as the government yesterday warned of power shortages. China has opened air-raid shelters as makeshift cooling stations, while thousands in Japan have been hospitalized for heatstroke.

“We are in a critical situation where, if any single power generator goes wrong, we will have to resort to rolling blackouts just like we did in 2011,” Yoon Sang Jick, South Korea’s minister of trade, industry and energy, said in a speech on Aug. 11.

Shanghai hit a record 40.8 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit) on Aug. 7, according to the meteorological bureau, as the city endured its hottest summer in 140 years. In southern Japan, temperatures in Shimanto city peaked at 41 degrees Celsius yesterday, the highest ever recorded in the country, according to the meteorological agency.

Eight people have died of heatstroke across South Korea as of Aug. 11, while 867 people have been hospitalized, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. Seventeen people in Japan were killed by heatstroke between Aug. 7 and Aug. 11, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, with more than 9,800 in the hospital for treatment.
Critical Period

In China, at least 11 people have died from heatstroke since July, the Shanghai Daily reported Aug. 1, citing local authorities.

“The hot summer this year is not a result of human activities, but it is true we have increasingly hotter summers and global warming is in the background,” said Takehiko Mikami, a climatology professor at Teikyo University in Tokyo.

The record temperatures are a result of multilayered high pressure systems extending over much of the region, including Japan, South Korea and China, Kenji Okada, a forecaster at the Japan Meteorological Agency, said today.

“Descending air currents get heated when compressed by many layers of high pressure,” Okada said by phone from Tokyo. “A lack of low pressure between the layers makes it difficult to create clouds, preventing temperatures from falling even at night. Normally, temperatures are reset by the next morning, but that isn’t happening now.” The pattern will remain for some time, Okada said.
Pressure on Utilities

In South Korea’s case, the three days through Aug. 14 are considered to be the most critical. Demand may peak at 80,500 megawatts on Aug. 13, while supply is forecast at 77,130 megawatts, leaving the country 3,370 megawatts short, the energy ministry said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

South Korea’s Yoon on Sunday urged public institutions, companies and households to cut power usage as much as possible from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. during those three days.

The heat wave heightens pressure on utilities, particularly in Japan and Korea where safety concerns have prompted the shuttering of nuclear power stations.

Two of South Korea’s 23 reactors were halted earlier this year and the restart of another was delayed when safety certificates for components used at the facilities were found to be faked. In Japan, all but two of the nation’s reactors are shut following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Electricity Demand Rises

In Japan, the absence of nuclear power has forced utilities to turn to conventional fossil fuels. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501), the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic plant, almost doubled coal consumption in July after turning to coal-fired plants to meet customer needs.

Demand for electricity in Tokyo Electric’s service areas reached 50,930 megawatts on Aug. 9, the highest this fiscal year, according to data on the utility’s website. Tepco, as the utility is known, estimates power demand may reach 90 percent of capacity in the two weeks through Aug. 23, it said Aug. 9 on its website.

Tepco, which has about 29 million customers in Metropolitan Tokyo, will seek electricity supplies from other companies and postpone maintenance at thermal and hydro power plants should demand spike, spokeswoman Kaoru Suzuki said by phone today.
Reserve Margins

Japan’s utilities have so far been able to keep their reserve margins — generating capacity not used to satisfy demand — at higher than 3 percent, which is considered the lower limit for a stable electricity supply, said Takehiro Kawahara, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“If the heat wave continues and the reserve margin becomes less than 3 percent, the national government and utilities will probably need to commit to more energy-saving efforts, asking businesses and consumers to save electricity,” Kawahara said.

The heat wave hit in force as millions of Tokyo residents left the city for home towns and villages for the o-bon summer holidays, when many companies and businesses shut for the week.

In Onjuku, a town on the east coast of Chiba prefecture about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tokyo, thousands of visitors have packed the town’s beaches to cool off.

In Tokyo’s Otematchi financial district, the mercury reached 38.3 degrees Celsius on Aug. 11, the fourth-highest on record for the area, according to agency data.
Power Production

An increase in Shanghai’s residential water tariffs has been postponed by a month to Sept. 1 as high temperatures are expected to continue, the government said in a statement on its website. Some residents of the city have turned to social media to call for the government to lower electricity prices.

Elsewhere in China, Hefei, Hangzhou, Xi’an and Chongqing cities have opened local air-raid shelters for citizens to keep cool, the Xinhua News Agency reported July 2, citing people it didn’t identify.

Seven provinces in China had record-high power production in July due to heat waves in east and southwest China, according to a July 29 statement on the website of State Grid Corp. of China, the nation’s dominant power distributor.

China’s power production increased to an all-time high in July. Electricity generation climbed 8.1 percent to 479.5 billion kilowatt-hours last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing showed Aug. 9, the highest monthly figure on record.

Temperatures are expected to rise to 35 degrees Celsius or higher again today in much of Japan including the Kyushu and Shikoku islands, according to Japan’s meteorological agency.

“We expect both maximum and minimum temperature will be higher than average or much higher in some locations,” the agency said today in its weekly forecast.

The agency began issuing heat advisories two years ago to warn of heatstroke amid a push across Japan to save energy following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sungwoo Park in Seoul at; Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at

Tom Cruise As Stacee Jaxx In Rock Of Ages

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2013 at 2:52 am

Tom Cruise As Stacee Jaxx In Rock Of Ages

Top 10 Angry Moments in sports

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2013 at 2:33 am

Top 10 Angry Moments in sports

Americans waste, throw away nearly half their food: study

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2013 at 4:50 am

Americans waste, throw away nearly half their food: study

Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:40pm EDT

(Reuters) – Americans throw away nearly half their food every year, waste worth roughly $165 billion annually, according to a study released on Tuesday.

“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That’s money and precious resources down the drain,” said Dana Gunders, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s food and agriculture program.

The NRDC report said Americans discard 40 percent of the food supply every year, and the average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food.

Just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. It also would lighten the burden on landfills, where food waste makes up the largest component of solid waste, according to the NRDC, a nonprofit environmental organization.

Particularly worrisome, the organization said, was evidence that there has been a 50 percent jump in U.S. food waste since the 1970s. Unsold fruits and vegetables in grocery stores account for a big part of the wasted food.

But consumers and restaurants are also to blame, preparing large portions that result in leftovers that often go uneaten.

The NRDC said it is asking for the U.S. government to study losses in the food system and set goals for waste reduction.

“No matter how sustainably our food is farmed, if it’s not being eaten, it is not a good use of resources,” said Gunders.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2013 at 4:46 am

Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

Allan Savory works to promote holistic management in the grasslands of the world.