The North American Meat Institute finds the petition submitted to the Food Safety and Inspection Service by CSPI and Consumer Reports on nitrites/nitrates in prepared meats ill-considered. Nitrates and nitrites provide a critical food safety function by helping to prevent botulism and other foodborne illnesses. The National Toxicology Program examined the concerns surrounding nitrates and nitrites and found them safe to consume as did the Food and Drug Administration. 

Currently, consumers have access to information about ingredients in prepared foods. The law requires companies producing federally inspected meat and poultry products to disclose a list all of the added ingredients on the information panel of a product’s packaging.

Nitrates and nitrites are naturally found in many foods and the vast majority of dietary intake is not from processed meat items. Consumers should keep in mind the numerous well-documented, science-based benefits of nitrates and nitrites in human health including: foodborne illness prevention, improved cognitive function, immune response, wound repair and more.

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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