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Entries in Meat (19)

Sunday
Apr142013

Meat Packing Company Recalls 468,000 Pounds of Meat

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A Louisiana meat packing company is expanding its recall to include approximately 468,000 pounds of meat.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, Manda Packing Company is expanding a previously announced recall to include a number of its products. The products, including roast beef, ham, turkey breast, tasso pork, ham shanks, hog head cheese, corned beef and pastrami. The food in question is at risk of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The packages in question were shipped to locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

The potential danger was discovered when the Tennessee Department of Agriculture determined a sample of Manda Packing Company's cooked roast beef had tested positive for the bacteria. Additional samples were taken and also tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, prompting the expanded recall. There have not been any reports of illness caused by the products.

Consumption of food containing Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a potentially deadly disease. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, headache, neck stiffness and nausea.

The USDA urges people to wash their hands before and after handling raw meat, keep raw meat away from other food, ensure all meats are fully cooked and avoid foods containing unpasteurized milk.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov092012

Allergic to Meat: Tiny Tick May Be Spreading Vegetarianism

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- A tiny tick might be to blame for a rash of meat allergies in central and southern regions of the U.S.

A bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, looks innocent enough.  But researchers say saliva that sneaks into the wound might trigger a reaction to meat agonizing enough to convert lifelong carnivores into vegetarians.

"People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock," said Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  "Most people want to avoid having the reaction, so they try to stay away from the food that triggers it."

Cases of the bizarre allergy are cropping up in areas ripe with lone star ticks, according to research presented Friday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.  But whether the bugs cause meat allergies remains unclear.

"It's hard to prove," said Commins.  "We're still searching for the mechanism."

Allergies are immune reactions to foreign substances, from pet hair to peanuts.  As antibodies attack the substance that caused the reaction, they trigger the release of histamine, a chemical that causes hives and, in severe cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Commins said blood levels of antibodies for alpha-gal, a sugar found in beef, lamb and pork, rise after a single bite from the lone star tick.  He said he hopes experiments that combine tiny samples of tick saliva with the invisible antibodies will prove the two are directly connected.

"It's complicated, no doubt," said Commins.  "But we think it's something in the saliva."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep042012

Where's the Beef? Putting a 'Less-Meat' Diet to the Test

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For generations, meat has been center stage on American dinner plates.  But now, for many, its seems to be moving to the side of the plate.

Today, 30 percent of Americans are eating less meat, not necessarily going vegetarian or vegan, but choosing to eat less.  Concerns over health, the so-called "pink slime" in burgers controversy, the impact on the environment and higher prices at the grocery store have led to meal-overhaul movements such as "Meatless Mondays" and a 12-percent drop in meat consumption over the last five years.

While finding new ways to change your diet can seem like a challenge, Mark Bittman, a New York Times food critic and an advocate for "less-meatarians," is out to prove that anyone can easily and affordably make tasty meals without having a chunk of meat take over the dinner plate.

"Combining vegetables with meat makes them much more interesting and this is historically how people ate," Bittman said. "Meat and fish were treasures.  They were treats.  They were things you couldn't count on.  It's only in the past 50 years that you could count on putting meat on the table every night and every day."

But eating less meat doesn't mean shopping at the premium organic stores, Bittman added.

"The difference isn't really between an organic cheese burger and a non-organic cheeseburger," he said.  "The difference is between...a cheeseburger and a head of broccoli.  That's the real choice."

At Haven's Kitchen in New York City, Bittman cooked up a cassoulet, basically pork and beans, but light on the pork.  He said it's a healthier meal because it is lower in fat and higher in micronutrients than its more traditional cousin.  Bittman said eating less meat has helped improve his health.

"I lost 35 pounds, my cholesterol levels went down below 200, which is where it's supposed to be, and blood sugar went down to where it's supposed to be," he said.

To put the "less-meatatarian" diet to the test, ABC's Nightline asked celebrity chef Angelo Sosa, a committed omnivore who specializes in Asian cuisine, to try it for three days, meaning he had to dial back the meat and amp up the vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

"What I eat is extremely important to me, more so now than ever -- I'm 37 and the weight goes right to my belly," Sosa said.  "I'm excited.  I feel like I don't need to be weighed down.  I don't like more fat in my system."

Did 72 hours on a less-meat diet make a difference for Sosa?  Did he feel different or still crave meat?  Watch the video below to find out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Meat Industry Has Beef with Meatless Monday, Forces USDA Retraction

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The USDA has retracted its support for an initiative to cut meat from Americans’ Monday diets, caving in to pressure from livestock producers and complaints from a Kansas Senator.

The original plug appeared in the USDA’s internal “Greening Headquarters Update” on Monday, where three paragraphs on the third page mentioned Meatless Mondays, an initiative by Monday Campaigns, Inc.  The update called them a “simple way to reduce your environmental impact.”

The memo went on to say that animal agriculture -- beef production in particular -- wastes water, fertilizer, fossil fuels and other resources. It also contributes to global climate change, the memo said.

“Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results,” the newsletter said. “Did you notice that our cafeterias have tasty meatless options?”

Well, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association noticed.

The association’s president, J.D. Alexander, said the newsletter called into question the USDA’s “commitment” to farmers and ranchers. He called the newsletter “awakening,” and condemned the agency for failing to understand efforts made to produce food sustainably. He cited progress the industry has made over the last 30 years to produce more meat with fewer environmental costs.

“This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet,” Alexander said.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., noticed, too. Once he saw Twitter responses to the USDA’s promotion of Meatless Mondays, he immediately printed out the USDA’s newsletter and headed down to the Senate floor, his aide, Garrette Silverman told ABC News. Kansas is the third-largest beef producer in the country.

“We are a beef-producing state and it is one of the items that improves our balance of trade as we export meat and beef around the world,” Moran concluded his three-minute speech on the Senate floor. “And, yet, our own Department of Agriculture encourages people not to consume meat.”

A press release from Moran’s office called the newsletter “demonizing” to the meat industry and meat consumers. He said the letter “attacks” meat production and fails to acknowledge livestock’s role in the economy.

“Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers,” Sen. Moran said.

By Wednesday afternoon, the memo was offline and a USDA tweet said it was posted in error.

“USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday,” the USDA tweeted.

Peggy Nue, President of Monday Campaigns, said she was initially pleased the USDA plugged Meatless Mondays this week, and she was surprised at how fast the USDA reversed its position.

“It shouldn’t be considered a threatening idea,” she said. “We’re not saying give up meat entirely -- just one day a week.”

Nue pointed toward the USDA’s most recent dietary guidelines, which came out in early 2011 and urge people to reduce solid fats and salts.

Indeed, chapter three of the USDA document, titled “Foods and Food Components to Reduce,” includes 14 mentions of the word “beef” and nine mentions of the word “meat.”

“There really is a conflict in their mission,” Nue said. “On one hand, they represent the meat industry, and on the other, they’re putting out dietary guidelines to make America healthier.”

It’s all too familiar to Professor Walter Willett, who chairs the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. When the USDA replaced its food pyramid with the “Healthy Eating Plate” last year, he told the Wall Street Journal it was “pretty useless” and designed his own.

“There’s a lot of schizophrenia within the department,” Willett said, citing the USDA’s promotion of cheese and beef consumption despite its warnings about saturated fats. “If you really believed in the dietary guidelines and you’re really promoting the dietary guidelines, Meatless Monday is a great thing to do.”

Willett said the newsletter also rightfully depicted red meat as environmentally taxing. Cows take two to three years to mature before they can be sold, they use a considerable amount of resources, and they produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

“Without question, the 1,000-pound steer in the room in terms of environmental impact is beef,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul082012

Buona Vita Recalls Over 300,000 Pounds of Meat

iStockphoto/ThinkStock(BRIDGETON, N.J.) -- On Saturday Buona Vita, a frozen food company in Bridgeton, N.J., recalled 324,770 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The contamination was discovered by microbiological testing done by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and FSIS. No reports of illness have occurred from consumption of their products.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Tick Bite Triggers Sudden Meat Allergy

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- There's a new weapon in the war on meat: a tiny tick, whose bite might be spreading meat allergies up the East Coast.

A bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, looks innocent enough. But University of Virginia researchers say saliva that sneaks into the tiny wound may trigger an allergic reaction to meat -- agonizing enough to convert lifelong carnivores into wary vegetarians.

"People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock," said Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "And most people want to avoid having the reaction, so they try to stay away from the food that triggers it."

Commins said cases of the bizarre allergy are popping up along the East Coast and into the Bible Belt, areas ripe with lone star ticks. He's already seen 400 or so. And 90 percent of them have a history of tick bites, he said.

"It's hard to prove," he said of the link between lone star ticks and meat allergies. "We're still searching for the mechanism."

Allergies are immune reactions to foreign substances, from pet hair to peanuts. As antibodies attack the substance that caused the reaction, they trigger the release of histamine, a chemical that causes hives and, in severe cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Commins said blood levels of antibodies for alpha-gal, a sugar found in red meat, lamb and pork, rise after a single bite from the lone star tick. He said he hopes experiments that combine tiny samples of tick saliva with the invisible antibodies will prove the two are directly connected.

"It's complicated, no doubt," said Commins. "But we think it's something in the saliva."

Experts say the six-hour lag between exposure to meat and the allergic reaction complicates things even more.

"It's very atypical as food allergies go," said Dr. Stanley Fineman, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "Most food allergies occur very quickly. And it's also a bit unusual to see adults develop a food allergy."

But the tick bite theory could help explain the sudden onset of some meat allergies, Fineman added.

Other Common food allergens include peanuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy and wheat. And most food allergy sufferers are glad to discover the source of their misery, even if it means upheaval for their diets.

"Avoidance is the best way to handle any food allergy," he said.

But meat allergies are hard for some brawny barbecuers to swallow.

"Some people are totally destroyed," said Commins. "Others say, 'Maybe I'm better off without it.'"

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May182012

Surprise! Men, Meat and Masculinity Linked

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There’s no summer activity manlier than slapping a thick steak on the grill and chowing down, according to a new study.

The report published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people associate meat with masculinity, a fact that may make healthier, vegetable-heavy diets seem wimpy and unappealing.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American food,” the authors wrote. “Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

Researchers conducted a series of studies testing metaphors associated with food. They found that people from Western cultures typically link manliness with meat, especially meatier muscle like steak. They also found that people associated meat with more masculine words and that meat-eaters are considered manlier than those who steer clear of or don’t dine on swine or cattle.

Interestingly, the researchers found that meat was associated with the male gender in 23 languages that assign gender to certain words.

Maybe the association comes from thoughts of strength and power in the muscle that meat comes from, the researchers speculated, or maybe it comes from thoughts of macho activities like hunting. Whatever the case, the study suggested that men seem to feel uneasy about picking a Portobello mushroom over a pork chop.

The health risks associated with meat-heavy diets are becoming increasingly evident. One study found that eating a single serving of red meat every day was linked to an increased risk of early death.

Dr. Ulka Agarwal, chief medical officer for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit group that promotes preventive medicine, animal rights and plant-based diets, said the “meat is macho, veggies are lame” mindset is really an outdated way of thinking about eating.

“The face of plant-based diets is changing as they become more mainstream,” Agarwal said. “It’s not just hippies, but also professional athletes who are following plant-based diets now.”

PCRM is already working on promoting the pros of plant-eating to men. The group that was behind controversial billboards in Chicago proclaiming that “hot dogs cause butt cancer” now promotes a program featuring masculine celebrities such as NBA players, firefighters  and ultra marathoners discussing the benefits of eating a plant-based diet and how it helps them perform.

Agarwal said an easy way to start on a plant-based diet is to avoid eating meat for one day a week.

“Easing people into these changes can really help them develop a taste for plant-based foods,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

How Cheap Meat Practices Beef Up Superbugs Like MRSA

Simon Sparrow, 1, died from a MRSA infection in 2004. His mother has since been on a mission to raise awareness of superbugs. (Everly Macario)(WASHINGTON) -- As 1½-year-old Simon Sparrow lay dying in a hospital in April 2004, doctors were perplexed as to what was causing his illness.

"None of the health care professionals at the University of Chicago had any clue as to why he died," Simon's mother, Everly Macario, recalls. "From the moment he got strange symptoms to when he died was 24 hours."

Tests following Simon's death revealed that he'd succumbed to an overwhelming infection caused by a highly antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria known as methicilliin-resistant Staph aureus, or MRSA. Despite having a doctorate in public health from Harvard, Macario had never heard of MRSA or its potentially deadly consequences.

Since her son's death, Macario has made it her mission to raise awareness of these deadly infections. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Macario joined a group of concerned mothers, health care providers, farmers and chefs in a roundtable meeting to raise awareness of the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The "Supermoms Against Superbugs" event, co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, is meant to raise awareness of the link between antibiotic overuse in farm animals and an increase in antibiotic-resistant "superbug" infections in humans.

MRSA is among a growing number of bacterial strains that are highly resistant to antibiotics and are very difficult to treat when they cause serious infections. According to infectious disease experts, the increase in the number of superbugs over the past three decades comes from the overuse of antibiotics -- not only in humans but also in farm animals. All told, livestock consume nearly 25 million pounds of antibiotics versus the three million pounds used in humans each year, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

And an estimated 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are given to healthy farm animals -- not to treat disease but to promote animal growth, allow animals to live closer together and decrease the amount of time it takes to raise an animal and send it to market.

Superbugs can be the unfortunate side effect of this process. When farm animals eat the antibiotics placed in their food, it exposes the bacteria that live in their gut and skin to low levels of the drug. Some of these bugs survive this low-level assault and go on to develop resistance to the antibiotics. The resistant superbugs can then spread to humans either by direct contact with farm animals or by eating contaminated meat from the animals.

Once superbugs such as MRSA, E. coli and salmonella escape the farm, they can spread their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria that also cause infections in humans.

Dr. James Johnson, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, says this is a big problem.

"Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness against bacteria," Johnson says. "New antibiotics are not being developed at a fast enough rate, and we have fewer treatment options for infected patients."

Superbugs can cause a variety of diseases in humans, including urinary tract infections, blood stream infections, meningitis and pneumonia. The most vulnerable patients tend to be the very young, chronically ill, hospitalized patients and the elderly.

Johnson says that despite the increase in the number of superbugs, infection tends to be a "somewhat uncommon occurrence." When it does occur, however, the infection is "more difficult to treat, more costly and more likely to lead to death in severe cases."

As the superbug threat grows, lawmakers and experts alike say the solution to the problem is clear -- but not necessarily easy to get going.

One approach, doctors say, is to reduce antibiotic use in both humans and animals -- essentially using them only to treat disease, rather than for disease prevention. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who is also the only microbiologist in Congress, has in recent years introduced legislation that would regulate antibiotic use in animal feed. So far, this bill has not passed into law.

Proponents of feeding antibiotics to healthy livestock argue, however, that the process is necessary to ensure animal health and to maintain efficiency. Eliminating antibiotics from feed would decrease the number of animals meat producers can raise, and so increase meat prices.

Data from the National Research Council estimates that a ban on antibiotic use in animal feed would cost a family of four an additional 34 to 75 cents per week for meat. Critics, on the other hand, cite the total cost to U.S. households from superbug infections. According to a news release from the advocacy group Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, these costs amount to $35 billion when factoring in lost wages, hospital stays and premature deaths nationwide.

Macario says there is a solution to the problem of increased antibiotic resistance. "I want to make sure that people don't shut down or feel like the world is going to end. Not all issues are solvable, but this one is."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr032012

Are LFTB, or ‘Pink Slime,' Safety Claims Meaningful to Consumers?

Rob Melnychuk/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The makers of Lean Finely Textured Beef, called “pink slime” by critics, insist their product is not just a cheaper filler added to fresh ground beef, and say it makes beef safer.

And, because LFTB is treated to kill pathogens, and since 2009, every box of LFTB has been inspected and held until it is cleared before shipping, manufacturer Beef Products Inc. claims that use of its product has never led to any deaths or sickness.

BPI owner Eldon Roth told supporters Saturday, “If your grocer doesn’t have our product in their ground beef, they don’t have the safest ground beef they could have.”

But four food safety experts interviewed by ABC News disagree, and they say it’s impossible to back up BPI’s claim for several reasons.

First, LFTB is not a stand-alone product. You cannot buy it at the grocery store.  As BPI said at its news conference, its “a different texture, and that is a finely, a fine texture.”

It is not the same as ground beef; the company concedes consumers would not recognize it as hamburger. In fact, it has the consistency of a “meat jello,” according to a former USDA microbiologist who studied the material.  So, even if the ammonia gas spritz it gets at the BPI plant is effective in destroying e-coli and other pathogens, the consumer never eats that product on its own.

Instead, LFTB is added to fresh ground beef, at a 15 percent ratio. Does that make the beef it’s added to safer?

At its news conference, BPI conceded the ammonia treatment of its product has no effect on the ground beef to which it is added.

When asked if LFTB kills pathogens in the beef it’s added to, BPI’s director of quality assurance Craig Letch said, “We cannot say that.”

Bill Marler, a noted food safety attorney who has sued the meat industry over e-coli and has toured the BPI plant and has praised BPI’s efforts at food safety in the past, told ABC News Tuesday that it is incorrect for BPI to say its product makes the beef supply safer.  Because, if it is added to contaminated ground beef, it will have no effect on the e-coli or other pathogens; the ground beef it's added to will still be contaminated after the so-called “pink slime” is mixed in.

Carl Custer, the former USDA microbiologist who opposed the inclusion of LFTB in ground beef, agrees the 15 percent change would be “hardly significant.”

Could 100-percent fresh beef actually be more risky because processors would be replacing the 15-percent ammoniated LFTB with untreated meat?

Michelle Simon, a public health lawyer, author of Appetite For Profit and a frequent critic of the meat industry, said, “This logic makes no sense.”  She warns of the potential risk, “Remember, the entire purpose of this stuff is to extend supply, right?”

“So it could even be argued that, far from making the beef supply safer, LFTB just helps spread the entire (unsafe) meat supply even further,” Simon. "When you consider that it makes beef cheaper, which of course results in more people eating ground beef, you are exposing more people to our contaminated meat supply.”

And Bill Marler adds, “There is no real recent evidence LBTF is any safer than regular ground beef, just BPI claims.”

And since the meat industry is so in tune to keeping e-coli out of the ground beef supply, he says, “It won’t let the wheels come off on safety without pink slime on the market, it will just test more.”

As for BPI’s claim that no one has ever been harmed by a LFTB-made hamburger, that may or may not be true. It’s impossible to prove or disprove, say food experts, because the USDA does not trace food poisoning outbreaks back to the processor.

Michelle Simon says, “Of course people have gotten sick eating beef with this stuff in it. We just cannot prove where the bugs came from.”

And according to a 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning article in The New York Times, a hamburger patty containing LFTB was linked to the paralysis suffered by dancer Stephanie Smith.

Records obtained by the Times showed “ten percent of Ms. Smith’s burger came from Beef Products.”  And the article said “federal school lunch officials found e-coli in Beef Products material in 2006 and 2008, and again in August” 2009, leading the company to begin its inspect-and-hold program.

For these reasons, both Marler and Simon say BPI’s broad claim that its product makes ground beef safer is misleading.

Now, the USDA has endorsed -- but not ordered -- the labeling of ground beef containing LFTB.  The USDA has announced that beginning Tuesday its inspectors will certify that ground beef voluntarily labeled as either “contains Lean Finely Textured Beef” or labeled “LFTB free” will be inspected to ensure it is true to its new label.

BPI released a statement endorsing the plan, saying it is the first step to restoring the reputation of its product.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar152012

Group Says Hot Dogs Cause 'Butt Cancer'

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The war against meat continues to grow, most recently with a giant billboard in Chicago that reads, "Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer."

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, animal rights and plant-based diets, installed the ad. What they really mean is processed meats have been linked to colorectal cancer, but Susan Levin, nutrition education director at PCRM, said a recent study found that 39 percent of Americans don't even know what the colon (the last part of the digestive tract) is. 

The blunt statement makes it easier for laypeople to understand medical jargon that is intended for health professionals, not the average U.S. citizen.

"Processed meats are very closely linked to colorectal cancer," Levin said.  "To us, that's unacceptable and it's not a safe food. We see it as our job to get that information out in a way that people can understand and it grabs attention."

But the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, a branch of the American Meat Institute, disagrees.

"The sign is pretty misleading," said Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Meat Institute.  "We find this billboard pretty outrageous and alarmist.  Hot dogs are part of a balanced diet. "

When it comes to addressing obesity in this country, health officials and consumers need to be aware of the amount of food eaten.  The current daily meat recommendation is 5 to 7 ounces per day, Riley said.

But a new Harvard study out Monday revealed that eating a single serving of red meat per day might increased the risk of early death by 13 percent.  And, according to the research, a daily serving of processed meat, including one hot dog or two strips of bacon, carried an even greater risk at 20 percent increased risk of early death.

The study comes on the heels of the headline-grabbing "pink slime" frenzy, in which thousands of critics were infuriated by the addition of the low-cost, ammonia-treated beef filler that comes from leftover cuts of meat.  It's unclear how much ground beef in the United States contains the ingredient, but some estimate it is as high as 70 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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