Consumer Health Digest #12-08

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 1, 2012

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Ban on chiropractic allergy treatment considered. The California Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit chiropractors from treating allergies. The bill—SB 352—would (a) specify that the practice of chiropractic does not include the treatment of hypersensitivity to foods, medications, environmental allergens, or venoms, (b) prohibit a chiropractor from advertising the ability to treat these conditions, and (c) specify that violating these provisions constitutes a cause for discipline by the state licensing board. The bill was introduced in response to a senator's concern about chiropractors who advertised they could cure allergies with a low-level laser device. However, the bill as it now exists has a wider scope. Meanwhile, the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners has proposed a regulation that would have little effect. Legislative efforts to reduce the scope of chiropractic are very rare and are likely to meet with great resistance from the chiropractic community. However, both the board and the state legislature might be receptive to well-reasoned public input. Chirobase has posted a detailed analysis of the situation that indicates how to help promote the proposed law.

Raw milk producer banned from interstate sales. A federal court has granted the FDA a permanent injunction preventing Daniel L. Allgyer and his Rainbow Acres Farm of Kinzers, Pennsylvania, from distributing raw milk and raw milk products in final package form for human consumption across state lines. The court also ruled that Allgyer's participation in a "private buying club" does not shield him from federal oversight and that Allgyer's "cow share" agreements were a subterfuge for sales of raw milk. Members of the private buying club had allegedly purchased "shares" of individual cows and then claimed that their reputed ownership entitled them to raw milk from those cows. Allgyer provided the association members who lived outside of Pennsylvania with containers of raw milk, even though federal law prohibits such sales. Allgyer also violated federal law by not providing any labeling on the raw milk containers sold to consumers. The agency issued a warning letter to Allgyer in 2010, but a 2-year undercover investigation indicated that he continued to break the law. The injunction requires Allgyer to state on his products, invoices, and Web site that he will no longer distribute unpasteurized milk or milk products in interstate commerce. Raw milk products for human consumption (with the exception of certain cheeses aged at least 60 days) have been prohibited in interstate commerce since 1987, but some states, including Pennsylvania, permit sale within their borders. A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) covering a 13-year period determined that raw milk products are 150 times more likely than pasteurized milk products to cause a foodborne illness outbreak. (While pasteurization effectively kills bacteria through heating, milk is occasionally contaminated after pasteurization.) Consumers can't tell if raw milk is safe to drink by looking at, smelling, or tasting it. Even under ideal conditions of cleanliness, collecting milk introduces some bacteria. Unless the milk is pasteurized, these bacteria can multiply and grow in the milk and cause illness. [Majority of dairy-related disease outbreaks linked to raw milk. CDC press release, Feb 21, 2012]

"Psychic" healer gets 5-year sentence. Nancy Marks, who was accused of stealing nearly $300,000 from clients, has been ordered to serve five years in prison and will be ordered to pay restitution when an appropriate amount is determined. Victims told police Marks had told them she needed their cash to draw out the bad energy and their credit card numbers to see how frequently the number 6 appeared. Marks was accused of then keeping the cash and of using the credit cards. In December 2010, a jury in Boulder found her guilty on 14 counts of fraud and 2 of tax evasion. [Lafayette psychic Nancy Marks sentenced to 5 years in prison for $300,000 theft. Daily Camera, Feb 24, 2012]

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This page was posted on March 1, 2012.