Health Highlights: April 5, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

New Rule For Safe Transport of Food Finalized by FDA

A new rule to prevent contamination of food during transport has been finalized, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.

It will require companies that move human and animal food by road or rail within the U.S. to follow recognized best practices for safe transportation, including proper refrigeration and protection during shipping, and adequate cleaning of vehicles between loads.

“Consumers deserve a safe food supply and this final rule will help to ensure that all those involved in the farm-to-fork continuum are doing their part to ensure that the food products that arrive in our grocery stores are safe to eat,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in an agency news release.

Larger companies will have to comply with the new regulation one year after publication of the final rule, while smaller businesses will have two years to comply.

The new rule was finalized under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Implementation of this and other FSMA final rules will require partnership, education and training, according to the FDA.

“We recognize the importance of education and training in achieving widespread compliance, and we are committed to working with both industry and our government partners to ensure effective implementation of all of the new food safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Taylor said.

To date, six of the seven major rules at the core of FSMA have been implemented. The seventh rule is expected to be finalized later this year.


Study Suggests Racial Bias in Medical Students’ Assessment of Patient Pain

A new study found that some white medical students seemed to have a racial bias that affects how they assess the pain of black patients.

More than 220 white medical students at the University of Virginia were asked their opinions about 15 statements regarding biological differences between races, ABC News reported.

Eleven of the statements were false, such as “Blacks nerve endings are less sensitive than whites’,” and “Blacks’ skin is thicker than whites’.” About half of the white medical students believed at least one of the false statements was “possibly, probably or definitely true.”

Medical students with false beliefs were more likely to display a racial bias when asked to rate white and black patients’ perceived pain in mock medical cases, according to the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers said their findings add to growing evidence that black patients are treated differently than white patients when it comes to pain management.

“For a long time we’ve known there are really large racial disparities in health and health care, in pain management this is really [striking],” lead author Kelly Hoffman, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia, told ABC News.


Philippines Launches World’s First Public Dengue Vaccination Program

The first public dengue vaccination program in the world began Monday in the Philippines.

Nurses started injecting the first group of a million children with a vaccine against the sometimes deadly mosquito-borne disease, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We are the first country to introduce, adopt and implement the first-ever dengue vaccine through the public health system and under public school settings,” according to Philippine Health Secretary Janette Garin.

The vaccine from Sanofi — approved by the Philippines in December — is the first to be licensed worldwide to protect people ages 9-45 from dengue, AFP reported.

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