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Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) is an allergic reaction that can arise after being bitten by a lone star tick. Skin rashes may be accompanied by aversions to beef and pork. The meat allergy can range from mild tingling and mouth soreness to full-on anaphylactic shock. Named for the white dot on the back of adult females, lone star ticks were historically located in the southern US but are now being found in the northeast and midwest. Headed outdoors? Apply insect repellant.
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The US Food and Drug Administration is investigating Lucky Charms cereal after dozens of customers complained of illness after eating it. The FDA has received more than 100 complaints related to Lucky Charms so far this year, and several hundred people have posted about the issue on food safety websites.
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Dietary guidelines for Americans often take a one-size-fits-all approach. Precision nutrition takes a more personalized angle, incorporating an individual's genetics, metabolism, gut microbes, lifestyle, and various biological, environmental, and social factors. Over the next 5 years, the National Institutes of Health will devote $170 million to develop this promising new field of research. Up to 10,000 Americans will participate in studies that aim to customize recommendations on what to eat for optimal health.
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A Consumer Reports analysis found that one-third of 126 common herbs and spices contained high enough levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead to raise health concerns. Major brands like McCormick and Whole Foods were included. Levels varied among brands, but thyme and oregano were consistently high in heavy metals, which can effect brain development and central nervous system functioning if overconsumed. Tests also revealed the herbs and spices lowest in heavy metals: black pepper, white pepper, coriander, curry powder, garlic powder, saffron, and sesame seeds.
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To crack down on misleading health claims, US lawmakers have introduced the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021. The proposed legislation would require standardized front-of-package labeling that tells consumers if a product is healthy or not. The new label may feature star ratings or a system of red, green, and yellow traffic icons. The legislation would also require packages labeled "whole grain" to list the actual percentage of whole grain in the food. The well-intentioned legislation faces an uphill battle before it becomes law.