Grow and Find Your Own Food

July 23rd, 2015
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Arsenic-based Animal Drugs and Poultry

June 9th, 2015

U.S. Food and Drug Administration — Arsenic is in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a contaminant and is found in water, air, soil, and food. Published scientific reports have indicated that organic arsenic, a less toxic form of arsenic and the form present in 3-Nitro® (roxarsone), an approved animal drug, could transform into inorganic arsenic. In response, scientists from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition developed an analytical method capable of detecting very low levels of inorganic arsenic in edible tissue.

Using the new method, FDA scientists found that the levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro® were increased relative to levels in the livers of the untreated control chickens.

Alpharma, a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc., decided to voluntarily suspend sale of 3-Nitro® and to facilitate an orderly process for suspending use of the product in the United States. Ownership of the veterinary drug subsequently changed to Zoetis, Inc., who continued the suspension from sale of 3- Nitro®. On February 27, 2014, Zoetis, Inc. voluntarily withdrew the new animal drug application for 3- Nitro®. On the same day, Zoetis, Inc. and Huvepharma AD voluntarily withdrew all new animal drug approvals and supplements for 3- Nitro®, as well as arsanilic acid and carbarsone (two other arsenical new animal drugs) for use in animal feed (including all combinations with other approved new animal drugs).

On April 1, 2015, Zoetis announced that it would discontinue marketing Histostat (nitarsone), the only remaining arsenic-based animal drug on the market, by Fall 2015, and would request withdrawal of the approval for the drug by the end of 2015. Histostat (nitarsone) is approved for the prevention of histomoniasis (blackhead disease) in turkeys and chickens, and is the only approved animal drug for this indication. Histomoniasis is a disease that occurs regionally and seasonally in turkeys, and causes significant mortality. Histostat (nitarsone) will cease to be available in the 2016 growing season.

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Superbug Medieval Remedy

March 31st, 2015

Anglo-Saxon cow bile and garlic potion kills MRSA

In the UK, the Telegraph reports:

A thousand-year-old medieval remedy for eye infections which was discovered in a manuscript in the British Library has been found to kill the superbug MRSA.

Anglo-Saxon expert Dr Christina Lee, from the School of English, at Nottingham University, recreated the 10th century potion to see if it really worked as an antibacterial remedy.

The ‘eyesalve’ recipe calls for two species of Allium (garlic and onion or leek), wine and oxgall (bile from a cow’s stomach).

It describes a very specific method of making the topical solution including the use of a brass vessel to brew it, a strainer to purify it and an instruction to leave the mixture for nine days before use.

None of the experts really expected the concoction to work. But when it was tested, microbiologists were amazed to find that not only did the salve clear up styes, but it also tackled the deadly superbug MRSA, which is resistant to many antibiotics.

“We were genuinely astonished at the results of our experiments in the lab,” said Dr Lee.

“We believe modern research into disease can benefit from past responses and knowledge, which is largely contained in non-scientific writings.

“But the potential of these texts to contribute to addressing the challenges cannot be understood without the combined expertise of both the arts and science.”

Dr Lee translated the recipe from Bald’s Leechbook, a leatherbound Old Enlgish manuscript which is kept in the British Library.

The Leechbook is widely thought of as one of the earliest known medical textbooks and contains Anglo-Saxon medical advice and recipes for medicines, salves and treatments.

“Medieval leech books and herbaria contain many remedies designed to treat what are clearly bacterial infections, weeping wounds/sores, eye and throat infections, skin conditions such as erysipelas, leprosy and chest infections,” Dr Lee added.

The scientists at Nottingham made four separate batches of the remedy using fresh ingredients each time, as well as a control treatment using the same quantity of distilled water and brass sheeting to mimic the brewing container but without the vegetable compounds.

None of the individual ingredients alone had any measurable effect, but when combined according to the recipe the MRSA populations were almost totally obliterated: about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived in mice wounds.

Researchers believe the antibacterial effect of the recipe is not due to a single ingredient but the combination used and brewing methods. Further research is planned to investigate how and why this works.

Microbiologists at Nottingham University said they were ‘genuinely amazed’ by the discovery.

“We thought that Bald’s eyesalve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity, because each of the ingredients has been shown by other researchers to have some effect on bacteria in the lab,” said Dr Freya Harrison who led the work in the laboratory.

“But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was.

“This truly cross-disciplinary project explores a new approach to modern health care problems by testing whether medieval remedies contain ingredients which kill bacteria or interfere with their ability to cause infection”.

Scientist Dr Steve Diggle added: “When we built this recipe in the lab I didn’t really expect it to actually do anything.

“When we found that it could actually disrupt and kill cells in (MRSA) biofilms, I was genuinely amazed.”

Dr Kendra Rumbaugh, of Texas Tech University in the US, who was asked to replicate the findings, said that the salve performed ‘good if not better’ than traditional antibiotics at tackling the superbug.

The team at Nottingham is seeking more funding to extend the research so that it could be tested on humans.

The findings were presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology in Birmingham which runs from March 30.

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The Most Common Sources of Food Poisoning

March 22nd, 2015

E. Coli
Beef: 46 percent
Vegetable row crops: 36 percent

Salmonella
Seeded vegetables: 18 percent
Fruit: 12 percent
Eggs: 12 percent
Chicken: 10 percent
Beef: 9 percent
Pork: 8 percent
Sprouts: 8 percent

Campylobacter
Dairy: 66 percent
Chicken: 8 percent

Listeria
Fruit: 50 percent
Dairy: 31 percent

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GMOs Are Healthier

February 25th, 2015

Almost all GMO’s that are produced for human consumption are healthier for you than their non-GMO counterpart. For instance, colored carrots, tomatoes and potatoes are being bred to help prevent cancer.

The USDA reports:
Researchers with the Agricultural Research Service may have found the best way to entice consumers to eat their veggies: Surprise them. They’re breeding carrots that come in a palette of totally unexpected colors including yellow, dark orange, bright red–even purple.

With their flashy colors, these conventionally-bred carrots could dress up any dull meal. But what’s getting scientists’ attention is finding that the bright veggies are full of pigments with impressive health-promoting properties.

Xanthophylls give the yellow carrots their golden hues and have been linked with good eye health. Red carrots contain lycopene, a type of carotene also found in tomatoes that’s believed to guard against heart disease and some cancers.

Purple carrots owe their color to anthocyanins. In a class all by themselves, these pigments are considered to be powerful antioxidants that can guard the body’s fragile cells from the destructive effects of unstable molecules known as free radicals.

At first, Philipp Simon–the carrots’ breeder who works at the ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wis.–was unsure if these complex vegetables could provide nutrients in a form that the human body can use.

But in studies with nutritionist Sherry Tanumihardjo from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Simon found that yellow carrots’ lutein was 65 percent as bioavailable as it is from a lutein supplement. The two also discovered that lycopene from red-pigmented carrots is 40 percent as bioavailable as it is from tomato paste.

And for consumers who don’t like tomatoes, having another food source of lycopene would be good news.

Learn more: Food For Thought

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