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Roundup: Improper Handwashing, Coffee’s Health Benefits, Rabies Alert Extended

Consumers Fail to Properly Clean Their Hands Before Meals, U.S. Study Finds

A new government study finds that the vast majority of Americans are not properly washing their hands before a meal, and this habit can pose a health hazard. Rushed or ineffective handwashing can lead to cross-contamination of food and other surfaces, resulting in food-borne illness.

A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that consumers were not washing their hands correctly 97 percent of the time. The biggest factors: Most consumers failed to wash their hands for the necessary 20 seconds, and many did not dry their hands with a clean towel.

“You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria,” said Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen.”

In cases of cross contamination, the study showed participants spreading bacteria from raw poultry onto other surfaces and food items in a test kitchen. Some of the findings:

With the summer grilling season here, the USDA reminds consumers to use a food thermometer and cook meat and poultry products to these recommended safe internal temperatures:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans are sickened with food-borne illnesses each year. These cases result in about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

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Coffee Drinkers – Decaf Included – May Live Longer, New Study Finds

Previous studies have mostly found benefits to regular consumption of coffee, and now new research goes even further by concluding that your favorite morning drink may boost your chances of a longer life.

In a study of nearly half-a-million adults [3], coffee drinkers had a slightly lower risk of death over 10 years, compared to non-drinkers of coffee. Overall, coffee drinkers were about 10 to 15 percent less likely to die than their counterparts during a decade of follow-up monitoring. Differences in the amount of coffee consumed and other health factors were minimal.

The health benefit was equally associated with different types of coffee, including instant, ground and decaffeinated variations. The participants included even coffee drinkers who were slow metabolizers of caffeine and those more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. The latest findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, included about a half-million people in England, Scotland and Wales.

Participants, between ages 38 to 73, filled out questionnaires about daily coffee consumption, exercise and other health-related habits. They took part in physical exams, including blood tests. Most were regular coffee drinkers- 154,000 or almost one-third drank two to three cups daily and 10,000 drank at least eight cups daily.

The coffee drinkers were more likely to drink alcohol and smoke, compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. But the researchers considered these factors and concluded that the coffee drinking seemed to cancel out those negative habits over the study’s period of time.

Other studies have indicated regular coffee consumption may reduce inflammation and improve how the body uses insulin, which can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. However, caffeine can cause short-term increases in blood pressure and other health problems.

Last year, researchers at the University of Southampton in the U.K. concluded that people who drink three or four cups of coffee daily significantly decrease their risk of an early death.

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Rabies Alert in South Dade Extended for 60 Days After 2nd Raccoon Tests Positive

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Miami-Dade County has confirmed a second raccoon tested positive for rabies in the same South Miami-Dade area and has extended a rabies alert for another 60 days, health officials said this week.

The Miami-Dade County boundaries for this alert are:
• SW 152nd Street to the North
• SW 187th Street to the South
• SW 117th Avenue to the East
• SW 137th Avenue to the West

DOH is working with Miami-Dade Animal Services to identify any individuals who may have been exposed to the animal.

An animal with rabies could infect other wild or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes, the DOH says.

Rabies attacks the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and potentially fatal to humans if not treated promptly. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin, which is a post-exposure injection, and the rabies immunization.

The DOH advices residents and visitors to take the following precautions: