Health Highlights: Dec. 17, 2015

By on December 17, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Chipotle Announces More Centralized Food Preparation

In an effort to improve food safety, more preparation will be done in central kitchens before food is sent to Chipotle restaurants, the company says.

That’s one of the measures introduced after a recent E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants. The specific ingredient responsible for the outbreak has not been pinpointed, but the company implemented a number of new food safety measures.

For example, the company will no longer wash and test whole tomatoes for its salsa before packaging them and sending them to its restaurants, because not all tomatoes can be tested and this process might fail to detect pathogens inside a tomato, ABC News reported.

Instead, tomatoes will be tested after they are washed and diced in centralized prep kitchens.

Also, many fresh produce items will be placed in boiling water for 3 to 5 seconds before being used in food preparation, ABC News reported.


Later School Start Times for Teens Becoming More Common

A growing number of school districts in the United States are introducing later school start times so teens can get more sleep.

Research has shown that starting classes at 8 a.m. is detrimental to teens’ health and their school performance, the Associated Press reported.

Last month, the Seattle school board voted to implement an 8:45 a.m. start time next fall for all high schools and most middle schools. In recent years, 70 other school districts nationwide have adopted later start times.

Supporters of later school start times believe many more school districts will introduce later start times now that the underlying science is widely accepted and has the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AP reported.

Studies show that later school start times help reduce sleep deprivation in teens, boosting their school performance, attendance, mental well-being and reducing their risk of drowsiness-related car crashes.

“We’re going to look back on this time period and wonder why it took so long,” Phyllis Payne, of Start School Later, told the AP.

The group assists parents groups pushing for later school start times. Forty-nine new local groups were formed in the last three years, according to Payne.


Paralyzed Vets will Receive Robotic Legs: VA

Robotic legs will be provided for paralyzed veterans with spinal cord injuries, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says.

Many of those veterans have been lobbying the VA to pay for the powered exoskeleton called the ReWalk because they can’t afford the $77,000 cost, the Associated Press reported.

On Dec. 10, the VA issued a memorandum outlining its plans to train staff to provide the ReWalk to patients.

The device has leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to upper-body movement and shifts in balance, the AP reported.

“The research support and effort to provide eligible veterans with paralysis an exoskeleton for home use is a historic move on the part of the VA because it represents a paradigm shift in the approach to rehabilitation for persons with paralysis,” said Dr. Ann Spungen, leader of the VA’s research on ReWalk.

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