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WebMD's 10 Top Health Stories of 2007

Recalled Toys, Unsafe Food, Bad Bugs, New Stem Cell Source Top List


Of course, new toys aren't the only hazard. WebMD also warned parents that lead-painted toys might be lurking in their children's toy boxes -- and provided tips on buying safe toys.

Not all unsafe products are kids' stuff. One of the scariest recalls in recent memory was the May recall of Advanced Medical Optics' Complete Moisture Plus contact lens solution due to contamination with an infection-causing parasite. What made this so scary is that this news came less than a year after Bausch & Lomb recalled its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution. The MoistureLoc solution, although probably not contaminated during manufacture, failed to prevent growth of a dangerous fungus.

No 2: Food Bites Back

Food safety is, one might say, a growing issue in the U.S. Whether you're a vegetarian or a hamburger lover, your menu likely includes one of the foodstuffs recalled in 2007.

The first major food scare of the year came with a warning that certain jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter might harbor salmonella, one of the major bacterial causes of food poisoning.

Perhaps the oddest recall of the year came in the summer, when a snack food called Veggie Booty was recalled due to potential salmonella contamination of its seasoning mix. Also included in the recall was a sister product, Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks.

Nobody was laughing, however, when Castleberry Foods warned customers that some of its canned products -- including hot dog chili sauces -- carried deadly botulism bacteria. At least four people were hospitalized with serious botulism poisoning. It was the first U.S. case of botulism in commercially canned goods for several decades.

But not the last. A few days later, Castleberry expanded the recall to include more than 80 canned products for humans (as well as four pet products).

Consumers were rattled. A few days before the botulism warning, Americans were stunned to learn that an upscale hotel amenity, toothpaste, contained a dangerous chemical. Manufacturer Gilchrest & Soames said the chemical did not belong in the Chinese-made toothpaste.

And a few days after the botulism warning, Americans learned that one of their favorite healthy snacks -- bags of ready-to-eat baby carrots -- might carry shigella bacteria. Within a week, we learned that bags of fresh spinach might carry salmonella. And in September, Dole recalled bags of fresh bagged salad suspected of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination.

In the fall, Topps Meat Co. announced the recall of 331,000 pounds of frozen ground beef due to E. coli 0157:H7 contamination. That seemed like a lot of beef -- until Oct. 1, when the recall swelled to include 21.7 million pounds of frozen hamburgers carrying the dangerous bacterial strain.

Beef patties weren't the only thing in our freezers harboring bad bugs. On Oct. 10, we learned that frozen chicken and turkey pot pies bearing Banquet or generic labels (all made by ConAgra) might be contaminated with salmonella.

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