Valley Fine Foods, a Forest City, N.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 35,516 pounds of heat-treated, not fully cooked meat and poultry products that may be adulterated due to presence of spoilage organisms that have rendered it unwholesome and unfit for human food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The heat-treated, not fully cooked, refrigerated meat and poultry products were produced on various dates from Aug. 15, 2018 through Oct. 4, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:
• 12-oz. tray packages containing “SIMPLE DISHES™ Chicken Penne Alfredo” with case code #19034, case UPC code 1-07-42753-34709-0, and “BEST IF USED BY” “10/09/18” through “11/25/18”. Unit UPC 7-42753-34709-3.
• 12-oz. tray packages containing “SIMPLE DISHES™ Chicken Primavera” with case code #19033, case UPC code 1-07-42753-34708-3, and “BEST IF USED BY” “10/09/18” through “11/25/18”. Unit UPC 7-42753-34708-6.
• 12-oz. tray packages containing “SIMPLE DISHES™ Italian Sausage Ziti” with case code #19035, case UPC code 1-07-42753-34711-3, and “BEST IF USED BY” “10/09/18” through “11/25/18”. Unit UPC 7-42753-34711-6.
• 12-oz. tray packages containing “SIMPLE DISHES™ Rigatoni with Meatballs and a Mushroom Cream Sauce” with case code #19036, case UPC Code of 1-07-42753- 34710-6 and “BEST IF USED BY” “10/09/18” through “11/25/18”. Unit UPC 7-42753-34710-9.
The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “ P-22102B” or “M-22102B” on the side of the product package. These items were shipped retail locations in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and North Carolina.
The problem was discovered on Oct. 4, 2018 by the establishment’s research and development department during routine internal testing. FSIS was notified on Oct. 10, 2018.
There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.
FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumer’s refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.
Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Valley Fine Foods customer service line, at 844-833-6888.
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.
George Alsberg, age 103, of Wilmington, was one of the oldest voluntary evacuees of Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf
NORTH CAROLINA HEALTH NEWS |
That’s the takeaway from a state-compiled list of the adults who died as a result of the catastrophic storm. It shows that two out of three North Carolinians who died during or as a result of Florence were 60 or older, and nearly half were 70 or older. The median age of adults who died during or as a result of the storm was 67, while the statewide median age is 38.3.
“Vulnerable adults are more likely to be impacted because of their social isolation, or not having the supports they needed in areas like transportation,” said Heather Burkhardt, program coordinator at Resources for Seniors in Raleigh.
The list of deaths tied to the catastrophic September storm grew to 39 on Oct. 1, when Gov. Roy Cooper announced two deaths, one of a Pender County man, 69, who fell off a roof Sept. 22 while repairing storm damage. A list supplied by the Department of Public Safety showed that people older than 65 represented:
Six of 11 people who drowned in motor vehicle accidents,
Five of six people who died of medical causes such as cardiopulmonary distress or COPD
A couple, 86, who died in a fire caused by the use of candles while power was out.
Three of the victims were infants and two others did not have listed ages. Of the 34 adult deaths with ages attached, 21 were older than 65.
Perhaps the most poignant death was that of a man, 82, who committed suicide in Carteret County after Florence devastated his home. “Shot self when house condemned,” read the terse DPS account of the death.
LONGLEAF POLITICS | Hurricane Matthew struck eastern North Carolina on Oct. 9, 2016.
A full 18 months later, some of the first federally funded repairs are slated to begin this June.
Hurricane Matthew has re-emerged as a political issue in Raleigh as thousands of people in eastern North Carolina await public money to rebuild.
The storm was one of the most devastating in North Carolina’s history, killing 31 people and caused more than $4.8 billion in damage. Matthew set rainfall records in 17 counties, and 2,300 people were rescued from floodwaters.
Why is recovery taking so long?
It mostly has to do with the processes set up to distribute the roughly $1.7 billion in recovery aid expected from the federal and state government.
While the initial response from the N.C. National Guard and FEMA came quickly, North Carolina has been in no hurry to distribute money intended for longer-term recovery.
And as it turns out, there’s a huge difference between money that’s been approved — and money that’s actually been used.
The breakdown of funding sources is an alphabet soup of agencies, each with its own policies and mechanisms and hoops to jump through. State governments have incentives to get roads repaired quickly. Homes, not so much.
Here’s a quick explanation of how disaster recovery works. It’s ordered by how quickly money has been distributed.
Though Florence has come and gone, people affected by the hurricane are still cleaning up and rebuilding. Those in affected areas with asthma and allergies must be extra careful during this time. There are many things to consider as they remove debris, clean up flood damage and make repairs.
Long after waters have receded, flood waters can leave behind chemicals, bacteria, viruses and mold. These can create long-term health issues if you have asthma and allergies.
Mold is one of the biggest concerns after a flood. Mold, a fungus, can grow in any damp environment. It is different from plants or animals in how it reproduces and grows. The “seeds,” called spores, travel through the air. Mold spores get into your nose and cause allergy symptoms. They also can reach your lungs and trigger asthma.
Here are some precautions to consider during the recovery process:
Mold grows quickly after flooding. As you remove flood damage, wear a mask with a particulate respirator. Look for NIOSH and N95 or P100 printed on the mask. It should have two straps and should cover your nose and chin.
Also wear a mask as you clean up debris. Many neighborhoods are still lined with debris from downed trees and damaged homes. These piles can harbor mold, pollen and toxic chemicals as you wait for your county or city to pick them up.
Don’t burn debris. Smoke and toxic materials can irritate your airways. If neighbors burn their debris, shield yourself from the smoke as much as possible.
Consider hiring a professional to do the cleanup.
Throw out furniture and other items that cannot be cleaned immediately.
If possible, find another place to stay until the mold has been cleaned up.
If your home has been flooded or has water damage, mold may start growing in places you don’t expect. It does not go away as the water dries. Mold may grow inside furniture or under carpet that got wet, making it hard to find. If not replaced, it can make you and your family very sick. Items that have gotten wet from a flood have to be thoroughly cleaned and dried or discarded. Many allergens and asthma triggers can stick around long after a hurricane has passed. Keep these tips in mind in the coming months as you rebuild. For more information, visit http://www.aafa.org/mold-allergy/.
A Disaster Food and Nutrition Services (DFNS) benefits program will be offered by Craven County Department of Social Services.
The services will be offered at 2818 Neuse Blvd. in New Bern beginning Friday, Sept. 28, 2018 through Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, then resuming on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018 through Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, for those who suffered food losses, damage or destruction of the household’s home or self-employment, lost income, or will incur a disaster related expense which will not be reimbursed during the period of Sept. 7, 2018 through Oct. 8, 2018 as a result of Hurricane Florence.
The hours of operation each day will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What Are Disaster Food and Nutrition Services Benefits?
Disaster FNS Benefits are being provided to residents of Craven County who suffered food losses, damage or destruction of the household’s home or self-employment, lost income, or will incur a disaster related expense which will not be reimbursed during the period of Sept. 7, 2018 through Oct. 8, 2018 due to Hurricane Florence. Not everyone will be eligible for these benefits, as certain eligibility criteria must be met. A person must have been living in the disaster area at the time of the disaster. You can only apply for benefits for those individuals who lived with you before Hurricane Florence occurred. If you are unable to apply in person, you may designate (with a signed statement from you) someone to represent you. Please be sure to include the individuals name as it is listed on their form of identification in your written statement if they are going to be your authorized representative. Individuals who are currently receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or more commonly referred to as Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) are NOT eligible to receive benefits nor be included on any DFNS application.
How Do I Apply?
You must file an application for benefits at a local department of Social Services that has been approved for a DFNS program. Your application information must be truthful. A Craven County Department of Social Services worker will interview you and go over your application with you. If you do not understand a question, ask the worker to explain it during the interview. Report all income accurately. Every household that receives disaster FNS benefits is subject to a federal and/or State review or audit.
Because long lines and wait times are possible, individuals are encouraged to bring medications and other necessary items. Due to limited space, individuals are encouraged to limit the number of people accompanying them and to consider arranging child care if possible. Residents should come prepared for inclement weather while waiting outdoors as limited outdoor shelter is available for those waiting in line.
No food vendors will be allowed in the parking lots at application locations. In addition, no donations will be accepted or distributed at application locations.
What Verifications Will I Need to Complete My Application?
Identification: Photo ID and other forms that are not limited to Social Security card, mail, or collateral statement. Identity of the head of household or authorized representative must be verified in order for an application to be made.
How Will We Determine Your Eligibility?
Your total income received (or expected to be received) between Sept. 7, 2018 through Oct. 6, 2018 plus available resources, minus a deduction for disaster-related expenses and shelter expenses, shall not exceed federal income limits. Individuals must have lived in the disaster area for the counties operating a DFNS program at the time of the disaster; must plan on purchasing food during the disaster period, and suffered food losses, damage or destruction of the household’s home or self-employment, lost income, or will incur a disaster related expense which will not be reimbursed during the period of Sept. 7, 2018 through Oct. 8, 2018 as a result of Hurricane Florence.
How and When Do I Get My Disaster Food and Nutrition Services Benefits?
All Disaster FNS Benefits are placed on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. You will receive an EBT card from the worker if you are eligible, after you complete your application. If you need assistance with using your EBT card, you may contact the NC EBT Call Center at 888-622-7328.
What Can I Use the Food and Nutrition Services Benefits For?
You may use your EBT card at any store that accepts FNS EBT cards. Only food, seeds, or plants for a garden to grow food may be purchased with the EBT card. You may also purchase infant formula, ice, and drinking water. Prepared hot foods may be bought in stores that accept EBT cards until Oct. 31, 2018. Items that cannot be purchased include but are not limited to paper items, soap, vitamins, diapers, medicine, pet foods, tobacco, or alcoholic beverages with your benefits.
DO NOT give false information or hide information to get or to continue to get Food and Nutrition Services.
DO NOT give or sell your benefits or authorization documents to anyone not authorized to use them.
DO NOT alter any document to get Food and Nutrition Services you are not entitled to.
DO NOT use Food and Nutrition Services to buy unauthorized items such as alcohol or tobacco.
DO NOT use another household’s Food and Nutrition Services or authorization document for your household.
If you intentionally break any of the rules above you may not be able to get any more Food and Nutrition Services permanently, and may be fined up to $250,000 and/or jailed up to 20 years.
It is illegal to receive Disaster FNS Benefits twice for the same disaster. People who get benefits they are not entitled to will be required to repay them. All state and county social services employees who receive Disaster FNS Benefits will be audited at a later time.
Any household denied Disaster Food and Nutrition Services Benefits is entitled to request a fair hearing at the Craven County Department of Social Services.
Ongoing Food and Nutrition Services Benefits
The application you make as part of this program is for Disaster Food and Nutrition Service Benefits only. If you want to apply for the regular FNS Program to receive ongoing benefits, if you are eligible, you must apply separately.
For questions or more information on the Disaster Food and Nutrition Services Program call the Craven County Department of Social Services at 252-636-4900.
NORTH CAROLINA HEALTH NEWS | Farmer markets around the state will have another month in the busy summer growing season to figure out how to keep accepting food assistance benefits electronically at their stands.
The National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) announced Thursday it will send a month’s worth of operating funds to technology company Nova Dia Group to keep its MarketLink software running until the end of August, according to a news release sent out Thursday.
The move came just two weeks before 1,700 farmers markets around the county, including 45 in North Carolina, would have to stop accepting the Electronic Benefit Cards (EBT) that many depend on. No permanent solution has been announced.
At farmers markets around North Carolina, the tables are piled high with tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, peaches and more.
But even as the growing season is peaking, some folks who might want to buy will have a harder time bringing those fresh fruits and vegetables home.
That’s because the technology company that currently processes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) benefits at 40 percent of the country’s farmers markets will stop doing so at the end of July.
Left in the lurch in North Carolina are 45 farmers markets, farm stands and mobile markets and the low-income customers that use their SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to buy that produce through a purchasing program that runs off of Apple iPads and iPhones, according to Lisa Misch, a program coordinator who works on food access issues for the Pittsboro-based Rural Advancement Foundation International.
Many North Carolina parents who have lost their children to drug overdoses are fighting to prevent other families from feeling their same pain.
Debbie Dalton holds a photo of her son Hunter who died from cocaine laced with fentanyl in 2016. He spent seven days in the hospital after his overdose hooked up to life support. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf
Debbie Dalton holds a photo of her son Hunter who died from cocaine laced with fentanyl in 2016. He spent seven days in the hospital after his overdose hooked up to life support. Photo credit: Taylor KnopfDebbie Dalton was sitting at her kitchen table in Cornelius writing Christmas cards the week after Thanksgiving 2016 when she received a devastating phone call.
The caller ID said “Hunter,” the name of her then-23-year-old son who recently graduated college and moved to Raleigh to work at Citrix.
But it wasn’t Hunter calling. His roommate was on the other end and said that Hunter had overdosed.
He lived for seven days hooked up to life support machines inside the hospital. Hunter overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl and was brain dead.
“I could have held his hand forever, but he wouldn’t want that,” Dalton said.
So she decided to take action. She joined the many North Carolina parents suffering the loss of a child who are fighting to prevent more drug overdose deaths.
Attorney General Josh Stein, who’s prioritized the opioid issue, recently invited parents from across the state to his Raleigh office to share what they’ve been doing to combat overdose deaths in their communities.
Most of the efforts revolve around prevention education and helping people get substance abuse treatment services. The majority of the parents present belong to a recently formed lobbying group called ROAR to push for opioid legislation.
In June, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the HOPE Act, a law aimed at stopping the flow of prescription drugs into the illegal market. The HOPE Act comes with the promise of more money for addiction treatment and recovery services. It also gives law enforcement new tools to investigate drug crimes, including the ability to look at the Controlled Substances Reporting System, a state-managed prescription database. That provision proved to be controversial.
New Bern ranks second in North Carolina and 75th in the nation for EMT and paramedic services, according to Security Choice.
Among North Carolina cities, Greenville ranked 19th, New Bern 75th, and Asheville ranked 83rd.
The survey took into account all of the data available for 645 cities across the nation. The final categorization was based primarily on five categories which were weighted by level of importance to those in the profession:
35% Mean Salary of EMTs Paramedics/EMTs by City
5% FBI Crime Data
25% Location Quotient for Paramedics/EMTs (Share of employment in the City vs National Average)
15% Paramedic Job Projection
20% Cost of Living
“Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) work in an exciting, but stressful field,” according to the article. “As first responders, these professionals make decisions on a daily basis that greatly impact the care and outcomes for patients in an emergency scenario. Emergency Medical Services also report a far higher incidence of injury and death on the job than any other equivalent profession. Most EMTs and paramedics choose the field because they love the work. With the high level of stress associated with the profession, it’s important to choose a location where the best quality of life is possible, on the job and off the clock.”
Arizona offers a great life quality for Paramedics and EMTs. In the top 20 cities, four are in the state of Arizona. Of those, three are in the top 10. Of these cities in Arizona, all have a lower than average crime rate and the cost of living is on average with a paramedic/EMT’s salary.
Low population cities are heavily represented. The average population in the top 20 cities was 54,000. The overall dataset’s average was 160,000. Areas with less congestion and residents yielded a better overall quality of life for this profession.
Western states don’t feature many cities in the top 100 list. Although California’s Santa Rosa is featured in the top 10 best cities and Washington’s cities are heavily represented throughout the top 100, many western states are not represented at all. No cities from Oregon, Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming proved to be advantageous for this profession.
Southern cities are among the best for EMTs and paramedics. Of the top 20 cities represented, seven of them are southern states. Georgia is well represented on this list, with two cities in the top 10 and three in the top 20.
In the waning days of this year’s legislative work session, lawmakers abruptly revived and passed a bill aimed at revising North Carolina’s laws to address the flood of people with mental health crises in hospital emergency departments.
Officials from the state’s hospital association had convened administrators, advocacy organizations, academics, mental health professionals and others over several years to examine some legislative fixes. Those leading that effort say they’ve come up with a bill that will improve processes for people who find themselves in crisis.
“We did this because we were tired of seeing these people, these humans trapped in a system that there really was no escape, this system of [involuntary commitment],” said Julia Wacker who leads mental health policy analysis for the North Carolina Healthcare Association. “This is far too often the way of treatment … stick these folks in handcuffs, put them in a squad car, and take them to the emergency department.”
But trust is hard to come by in North Carolina’s mental health system, and people who have been part of that system as consumers of services say they feel let down by a process that excluded their voices, as many of the state’s most prominent self-advocates were not invited to participate. They say any result will fail to account for the pain they’ve experienced as a result of the state’s fractured behavioral health system.
“They did not tell us about this bill,” said longtime advocate Martha Brock, who has been hospitalized for mental illness in the past.
Brock, who serves on the state Consumer and Family Advisory Committee, which informs the Department of Health and Human Services on behavioral health issues, said that she was frustrated after being shut out of the negotiations around the bill. She also has problems with some of its provisions.
Another longtime advocate Laurie Coker complained that the bill was revived suddenly, moved quickly, and that they were given little time to respond to changes made in the final draft. Both women expressed concern about definitions of “incompetence,” about who gets to make decisions for a person once they’re engaged in the behavioral health system, and about the privacy rights of people in that system.
And their complaints hint at some of the long-standing divisions within the mental health advocacy community itself, as well as the problems that come when institutions communicate with a limited pool of advocates.
Mental health advocates are concerned that a bill to enhance prison safety could disproportionately hurt inmates with severe mental illnesses.
A bill making its way through the General Assembly would have imposed automatic felony charges, with time in prison added to the sentences of inmates who masturbate in front of or throw bodily or unknown fluids toward a correctional officer.
These felony charges could have added up to two years to an inmate’s sentence for each offense, which would be served consecutively. The concern was that this could potentially add more than a decade to an inmate’s time for a prisoner with multiple offenses.
Dave Wickstrom, executive director of the Alliance of Disability Advocates, said he feared this could “keep people with mental illness in prison forever.”
After a contentious legislative committee meeting Thursday afternoon, the bill continued to move forward, but with the penalties softened some.
Nonetheless, advocates worry the measure will sweep up some of the most vulnerable of North Carolina’s prison population, and raise costs.
As the number of drug overdoses in North Carolina and across the country continue to climb, state lawmakers rolled out a second piece of legislation aimed at curbing the flow of prescription opioids into the illegal drug market.
The Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (HOPE) Act aims to give law enforcement more tools to stop the diversion of prescription pills by allowing expanded access to the Controlled Substance Reporting System, which tracks the identifying information of people who are prescribed opioids.
The HOPE Act also makes it a class G felony for a first responder or home health worker to steal a patient’s medication, on par with robbery. And it would create a class E felony for any health care provider to steal a patient’s medication by diluting it or replacing it with a drug other than the one the patients were prescribed. Other class E felonies include child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
“As sad as it is, we have some bad actors in the medical field who have by their deeds fueled this crisis,” said Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) during the press rollout of the bill. “It is tragic that we have to put this into legislation … These activities are rare, but we have to seal every door and stem every breach that allows this crisis to continue.”