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Roundup: Fast Food Habits, Raw Beef Recall, and Diet’s Link to Breast Cancer

More Than One-Third of Americans Eat Fast Food on a Given Day, CDC Reports

Previous studies have confirmed that fast food consumption in the United States has increased over the past four decades at a troubling rate, and has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. A new report [1] from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 36.6 percent of adults consumed fast food on a given day from 2013 through 2016.

The percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age: 44.9 percent aged 20–39; 37.7 percent aged 40–59; and 24.1% aged 60 and over, according to the CDC.

Eating a poor quality diet high in fast food entries is linked to a higher risk of obesity, digestive issues, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even early death. There has been an increasing number of healthier fast food options available, but most fast food menu items are still considered of poor health quality.

Fast food is generally high in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol — and all of these are contributors to heart disease and related risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“Fast food is a part of the American diet and has been associated with high caloric intake, and poor diet quality,” the CDC states. “Time, financial resources, price, and availability influence fast food consumption.”

Among all adults, a slightly higher percentage of men (37.9 percent) than women (35.4 percent) consumed fast foods. Men were more likely than women to eat fast food at lunch, but women were more likely to report eating fast food as a snack, the CDC said.

The percentage of adults who consumed fast food increased with rising family income levels, the CDC found. Overall, 31.7 percent of lower-income adults (less than or equal to 130 percent of the federal poverty level [2]); 36.4 percent of middle-income adults (greater than 130 percent to less than or equal to 350 percent of the federal poverty level); and 42 percent of higher-income adults (greater than 350 percent of the federal poverty level) consumed fast food on a given day.

The findings from the report has some limitations. The dietary habits was obtained from in-person interviews during which participants recalled what they had eaten in the past 24 hours. Such recall interviews can lead to underreporting and other issues.

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Recall of 6.5 Million Pounds of Raw Beef Products Linked to Salmonella Outbreak, U.S. Agency Says

JBS Tolleson, Inc., which is based in Arizona, is recalling 6,500,966 pounds of “various raw, non-intact beef products” because of possible salmonella contamination, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service [5] (FSIS) reported Thursday.

The raw, non-intact beef items, including ground beef, were packaged on various dates from July 26, 2018 to Sept. 7, 2018, the FSIS states. The following products are subject to recall: (Products List PDF [6]) (Product Labels PDF [7]). The recall was issued after health officials identified JBS as the common supplier of the raw ground beef products linked to reported salmonella illnesses.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 267” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations and institutions nationwide. They were sold nationwide under brand names Walmart, Cedar River Farms Natural Beef, Showcase, Showcase/Walmart and JBS Generic.

More than 50 cases of salmonella illness associated to this outbreak were reported in 16 US states between August 5 and September 6. The FSIS says it is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

“Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them,” the U.S. agency said. “These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

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Processed Meats Linked to Higher Risk of Breast Cancer

An analysis of 15 studies [10] involving 1.2 million women has found that processed meat consumption is associated with a 9 percent higher breast cancer risk, researchers found.

The study’s authors conceded that the previous studies produced “inconsistent” results in trying to establish a link between processed meat and breast cancer. Processed meats are those that have been preserved by smoking, curing or salting. Examples include bacon, sausages and ham. Most dietitians and cancer organizations favor fish, poultry, beans and plant-based foods over processed and red meat as protein sources.

“Previous works linked increased risk of some types of cancer to higher processed meat intake, and this recent meta-analysis suggests that processed meat consumption may also increase breast cancer risk. Therefore, cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer.” said lead author Maryam Farvid, M.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The latest research on processed meats is consistent with the World Health Organization’s previous report that found eating processed meat such as sausages and ham causes cancer, while unprocessed red meat may also be carcinogenic. The WHO’s cancer research division now classifies processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” based on evidence from hundreds of studies, linking these food prodcuts specifically to colon, or colorectal, cancer.

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