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Entries in Feces (3)

Thursday
Oct182012

Seafood from Asia Raised on Pig Waste, Says News Report

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Seafood raised on pig feces and crawling with flies is being sold to U.S. consumers, according to a new report.

The November issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, in a piece on food poisoning and safety, says that it is common practice in some parts of Asia to feed fish pig waste.  It describes, for example, the sanitary conditions at a fish factory on the southern coast of Vietnam.

"Flies," it says, "crawl over baskets of processed shrimp."

The shrimp at some plants are packed in ice, which is good.  What's bad is that it's ice made from water often found to be contaminated with bacteria and unfit for human consumption, say Bloomberg's reporters in Hanoi.

Vietnam ships 100 million pounds of shrimp a year to the U.S., about 8 percent of the shrimp sold in America.

Outside Hong Kong, at a tilapia farm, fish are fed a diet that includes pig and geese feces.  That practice, Michael Doyle tells Bloomberg Markets, is unsafe for U.S. consumers, because the manure may be contaminated with salmonella. 

Doyle is director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.  Fish farmers, he says, use fecal matter as a cheaper alternative to commercial fish food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspects food shipments to the United States, including seafood shipments, but the agency's resources are limited, says Bloomberg's report.  It is able to inspect fewer than 3 percent of shipments.  Of that, reports Bloomberg, much is sent back.  The FDA has rejected 1,380 shipments of Vietnamese seafood since 2007, finding filth and salmonella.

Kevin Fitzsimmons, a professor and research scientist at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, tells ABC News he has read the Bloomberg article and finds it "a little misleading.  I do a lot of work in Asia and am headed there now for a conference on tilapia.  They [Bloomberg] are cherry-picking a few items to make things sound as bad as possible."  Fitzsimmons is an officer of the American Tilapia Association and an expert on seafood production in Asia.

For starters, he says, seafood shipments from Asia to the U.S. number in the "hundreds of thousands, if not millions," so the fact that 1,380 from Vietnam have been returned since 2007 is relatively insignificant.

Second, he says, the practice in Asia of putting hog feces into fish ponds dates back "thousands of years," and is not as repellent as it at first might sound.  Why?  "Because the fish are not eating the feces.  The feces are added to the water to produce an algae bloom," he says, which in turn produces a form of plankton that the fish then eat.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Social Network for Gut Bacteria?

Medioimages/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- Finally, you can share the status of your gut bacteria with your friends.

In exchange for $2,100 and a bit of “poop,” My.Microbes will sequence your gut microbiome, the genetic blueprints for the throng of organisms lining your digestive tract.

In addition to collecting piles of data for scientists studying gut diseases and obesity, the site promises to connect users with similar gut microbiomes to share digestive issues and diet tips. Whether users will personally benefit from participating, however, remains unclear.

The website also encourages non-participants to donate money.

The hefty fee covers the cost of shipping the stool sample kit and the gene sequencing process. But other gene sequencing services, such as 23andMe, cost a fraction of My.Microbes’ price tag. That, My.Microbes creator Peer Bork told Nature, is because the gut microbiome contains around 5 billion letters of DNA, more than 2 billion more than the human genome.

The people at My.Microbes hope that one day the gut microbiome could help guide treatments for various diseases just as the human genome has personalized some cancer therapies.

For MyMicrobes to generate a meaningful heap of data, it will need about 5,000 participants. As of Thursday morning, it had 134, but not all of them have committed to the fee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Diarrhea, Digestive Ills Relieved With Fecal Transplants

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Demonstrating that even in medicine, "one man's trash is another man's treasure," patients with debilitating diarrhea are finding relief, if not cures, after receiving bacteria-rich stool from the guts of healthy donors, usually close relatives.

Despite the gross-out factor, fecal transplants are simple enough to perform at home using such inexpensive tools as a bottle of saline, a two-quart enema kit from the local drugstore and a standard kitchen blender.

The approach, also called fecal bacteriotherapy, is hardly new.  Dr. Ben Eiseman, the longtime chief of surgery at Denver General Hospital, reported in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in 1958 that enemas containing feces from healthy colons successfully replenished good digestive bacteria in patients suffering from pseudomembranous colitis, a painful colon inflammation associated with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile.

Dr. Thomas J. Borody, from the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney, Australia, reported in the same journal in 2003 that "human probiotic infusions" reversed ulcerative colitis in six patients, each of whom had been sick at least five years with the inflammatory condition.  All remained disease-free in one to 13 years of follow-up.

In recent years, the number of chronic infections with C. diff has increased, often from prolonged antibiotic use and growing antibiotic resistance, especially among the elderly and those in hospitals and long-term care facilities.  That has driven renewed interest in fecal transplantation, although it's still not covered by health insurance plans.

North American gastroenterologists and infectious disease experts, mindful that the technique has been used in Europe, have been offering it as last-ditch therapy for patients wasting away from debilitating diarrhea that hasn't responded to even the most powerful and most expensive antibiotics, such as vancomycin.

Doctors infuse patients' colons using an enema or colonoscope (and sometimes the stomach using a nasogastric tube) with solutions of water or saline spiked with donor feces that have been screened for parasites, HIV, hepatitis, and other illness-causing microbes.  They suggest donors should be someone you know and trust, like a spouse, a parent or a child, although a few institutions are experimenting with donations collected from healthy men or women who have been tested and found free of major diseases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio