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Sunday, Oct 27 2013 11:00 PM

Putting a paw down for pet food safety

By The Bakersfield Californian

HIT: The Food and Drug Administration was established to protect the health and safety of Americans with respect to the products they consume. Until now, we've always assumed that meant American humans. It doesn't. At least not any longer.

In a move that should have concerned pet lovers barking for joy, the FDA has announced tougher rules governing the manufacture of pet food -- specifically, regulations intended to prevent harmful bacteria and other substances from contaminating animal feed. The announcement comes as the FDA investigates an outbreak of illness tied to imported jerky treats: Roughly 3,600 dogs and several cats have become ill since 2007 after consuming the Chinese-made product; 600 pets have died. The FDA says the new regulations will allow them more leverage to nab offenders during the manufacturing process instead of waiting for the tainted product to reach the market.

The policy also benefits people directly, too. Pet food contaminated with bacteria can sicken people if pet owners handle the food, for example, or place it on a counter.

HIT: States promoting clean cars

California and seven other states last week unveiled a plan to dramatically increase the number of zero-emission vehicles on America's roadways -- 3.3 million of them, in fact, by 2025. That would be 15 times the amount of battery-powered, plug-in hybrid or other clean-burning cars already projected to be in use in by 2015, The Associated Press reports. Sounds like something the San Joaquin Valley should embrace. The states' plan includes hastening the construction of charging stations and other zero-emission-based infrastructure nationwide. Auto dealers have said networks of charging stations are "vital to winning over drivers who are accustomed to pulling up to the gas pump and fear getting stranded by a dead battery," according to the AP. The more drivers who understand the benefits and forthcoming convenience of clean vehicles -- rather than fearing the alleged perils of operating one -- the better for our roadways and air quality.

HIT: Let the ladies don the stripes

An amazing thing happened last week: A college football game was officiated by a majority-female crew, and, well, everything went just fine. In what apparently was a first, a seven-member crew that included four women officiated a Division II, Souther Collegiate Athletic Conference game in Birmingham, Ala. The conference said it was the first time in NCAA history a majority-female officiating crew had taken the field. David Coleman, the NFL's director of officiating, attended the game. Is the pro football ready for gender equity of this type on the gridiron? Could be.

MISS: Polio rears its ugly head again

Polio, a crippling, once-feared disease eradicated in nearly every corner of the globe by immunizations, has sprung up -- in Syria. The World Health organization says it suspects at least 22 people there have the disease. If so, it would be the first polio outbreak in 14 years. Most of those affected are children under the age of 2, and more than 100,000 children under the age of 5 are at risk of polio in that troubled nation's eastern province. There is no cure for the highly infectious disease, and most of the 22 victims are believed to have never been vaccinated.

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