HEALTH

NY AG’s DNA barcoding not used by FDA for plant identification

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. — A Food and Drug Administration letter to the Senate called into question the validity of the kind of DNA barcoding technology New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used as a basis for requesting four retailers to stop selling certain herbal supplements because they did not contain the ingredients posted on the label. 
 
In a letter to Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, FDA on Wednesday acknowledged that the agency is "not currently using DNA-sequencing agency-wide for plant identification" and "if FDA were to use DNA methods on botanical extracts, we would use them in combination with established chemical or other acceptable methods historically used to verify the identity of these products."
 
However, the agency declined to question specifically the validity NY AG's testing methods, as the FDA "has not received the testing methodology or results from the New York Attorney General."
 
"FDA’s response is helpful as other State Attorneys General and the media evaluate what’s going on in New York," stated Mike Greene, VP government relations for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "In our ongoing discussions with State AGs and the press, we continue to emphasize that the NY AG used the wrong test, leading to inaccurate conclusions, and that FDA has ample and appropriate good manufacturing regulations in place to help ensure that consumers are getting products that contain what’s on the label," he said. "We will share this letter widely as it confirms many of the things we have been saying. The fact is there are regulations in place, and responsible companies are following those regulations.”
 

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HEALTH

FMI report: More supermarkets investing in health offerings

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — Supermarkets have continued to evolve their healthcare offering with an emphasis on convenience in the past year, metamorphosing into a one-stop shop for all things health with the growth of in-store clinics, for example. As many as 70% of supermarket operators responding to this year's Retail Contributions to Health and Wellness report from the Food Marketing Institute reported that in-store clinics have been expanded into some or all stores, an increase from 40% only a year ago. 
 
And the link between pharmacy and food continues to become stronger, the report found. In addition to employing pharmacists, 95% of grocery stores surveyed employ dietitians. About half (48%) of survey respondents said supermarket dietitians and pharmacists are working together to make customer-specific recommendations; fifty-two percent of them say they are referring customers/patients to each other for counsel.
 
In addition, more than half (54%) of grocers surveyed have established health-and-wellness programs for both customers and employees. The majority of these programs include community health events, product sampling, healthy recipes, store tours, cooking demonstrations and health screenings.
 
And a majority of supermarkets (76%) have added a chef at all or some stores. Three-out-of-four grocery store respondents offer cooking classes to shoppers with the majority of classes geared towards dietary needs, such as diabetes. In addition, 63% of stores provide weight-management classes for adults.
 
 

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Nasacort Allergy 24HR makes sure you can smell that spring is in the air

BY Michael Johnsen

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Chattem on Wednesday teamed with Neil Pasricha, an allergy sufferer and bestselling author of "The Book of Awesome," as well as Charles Wysocki, a renowned expert on the science of smell, to educate Americans about the importance of smell and encourage them to celebrate the “awesome” scents of spring that often make us happy. 
 
Chattem's allergy remedy, Nasacort Allergy 24HR, is scent and alcohol free and is available over-the-counter at full prescription strength to help relieve nasal allergy symptoms like congestion, so even the worst allergy sufferer can enjoy the "Happy Smells of spring," the company stated.
 
For the more than 60 million Americans who suffer from seasonal and year-round hay fever and other upper respiratory allergies, symptoms like sneezing and nasal congestion can inhibit smell. “Smells are chemicals — and although many people think of chemicals as bad things, they are integral to our experiences,” Wysocki explained. “Smell is also the only sense with a direct link to the part of the brain called the limbic system, which governs emotion and behavior. That’s why for many people, smells can evoke feelings or make them recall vivid or emotional old memories. It’s a powerful sense that affects us every day.”
 
“Every day, I celebrate the little moments in life that are truly awesome — and from the smell of the first barbecue wafting over your neighbor’s fence to the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk, the spring time is full of them,” Pasricha added. “But like a lot of people, I suffer from terrible seasonal allergies and can’t smell a thing unless I take care of the symptoms with Nasacort Allergy 24HR. For me, awesome things are what life’s all about. So the more I manage my allergies, the more awesome things I experience.”
 

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