Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Food Labels: Mislead or Mislabel!


Not quite, just like faked Kona Coffee, it is still caviar but a cheaper species.

Looks like the big boys are moving in as the pickings are better with the rich and famous who can’t tell their burgundies, coffees or now caviar.

I think I like to get my hand on those cheap stuff that could be passed off as fakes.

The Guardian:

Is fine dining having its Apollo 13 moment? I know it's not on the same scale as "Houston, we have a problem," but when Laura King had to call Fortnum & Mason and Harrods to say, "There might be a problem with the sevruga," it can't have been her easiest day at the office.

King is the founder and co-owner of the eponymous King's Fine Foods, the UK's largest supplier of caviar with a client list that includes Buckingham Palace, the Groucho Club and Claridge's, as well as the nation's poshest grocers.

Random DNA tests taken back in October at King's premises in Richmond have revealed that what was labelled as top-grade sevruga, the eggs from Acipenser stellatus sturgeon, was actually the roe ofAcipenser ruthenus, considered considerably less fine by those who know and care about these things.


 

The Cockroach Catcher has always been amazed that in a short time under pressure from consumer groups and the government, food manufacturers and supermarkets managed to produce detail analysis of the product they sell so that consumers can be clear what they are “consuming”!

What he was amazed was how healthy most foods were: sugar free, trans-fat free, cholesterol free. Even when the product has cheese.

Wow! Modern food processing technology! Or was it modern labelling technology!


Then he remembered Ribena. You can read about it here>>>>>


 Vancouver ©2012 Am Ang Zhang


I happened to be in one of the world’s most livable city and imagine my surprise when I read this in:



Tests unveil misleading food labels
Bad nutrients understated, good ones overstated

By Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News April 20, 2012

Some of the world's biggest food brands and leading organic labels have understated the amount of bad nutrients — such as fat, sugar and sodium — in their products, or overstated the good ones, internal government tests show.

Kraft, Frito Lay, Unilever and Heinz are among the big names with a product that flunked Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) testing, conducted to see if nutrition claims on labels live up to their billing.

Loblaw's popular President's Choice brand had multiple "unsatisfactory" tests on products ranging from cereal to spaghetti.

Premium brands like Amy's Kitchen, Eden Organic, Natur-a, Kashi and Yves Veggie Cuisine also fell short on composition claims, as did Canadian food-makers like B.C.-based Sun-Rype Products Ltd. and Quebec-based Aliments Fontaine Sante.
No Sugar:

Among the breads and baked goods tested, Fenwicks "no sugar added" cookies (too much sugar)

Iron:
In the snacks category, Krispy Kernels Inc.'s Island mixed nuts claimed to contain 90 per cent of the recommended daily intake of iron per serving. Samples tested by CFIA found contained a fraction of that: 10.5 per cent.

A sampling of other findings shows the huge discrepancies that can exist between labels and ingredients.

Cholesterol:
Some snacks boasting a "No cholesterol" message on their label showed levels ranging from 4.3 milligrams (Lays Smart Selections chips) to 10.5 mg (Barbara's Cheesepuff Bakes) per portion, according to CFIA tests.

(PepsiCo says its own tests on Lays chips, conducted after CFIA informed the company of the agency's eight unsatisfactory tests involving samples of three Smart Selections chip products, showed the claim was accurate.)

Kraft made the same no-cholesterol claim for its Ritz "Real Cheddar Cheese" crackers, but CFIA testing showed the crackers contained 3.2 mg per portion. Dare's cinnamon snap biscuits contained 4.9 mg, CFIA testing showed.

These discrepancies pale in comparison to the findings of two canned snail products picked up from Dollarama stores in Regina. The products of Indonesia, branded as "Beaver" and "Pacific Pride," contained 147 mg and 131 mg of cholesterol per serving respectively, not zero as claimed.
Vitamins:

Canned foods from Unico (pizza sauce), Primo (vegetable soup), Stokely (pumpkin) and Amy's (refried beans, butternut soup) all fell short of their vitamin claims. So did Eden Organic's vegetable spirals, President's Choice organic pasta sauce, Fontaine Sante spinach dip and Island Farms yogurt.

Of the 40 products found to be overstating the amount of vitamins in their products, Yves Veggie Cuisine Ground Round (Mexican flavour) and a prepared pasta dinner by Olivieri Creations stood out for being wildly inaccurate.

The label on Yves Veggie Cuisine Ground Round, a product of the Hain Celestial Group, said each serving contained 80 per cent of the daily value of vitamin A, but CFIA testing showed 3 per cent. And a pre-packaged tortelloni and chicken dinner by Olivieri Creations claimed to contain 110 per cent of the daily value of vitamin C per serving, but CFIA found a serving contained only 1.1 per cent.

Sun-Rype, Oasis and Bolthouse Farms were among the juice brands that overstated — by about double — the amount of a vitamin.
Two juices from Dewlands fared worse; each boasted 35 per cent of the daily value of vitamin A, butnone was detected in either.

Omega acids:
Big-brand products that failed to live up to their omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acid claims included President's Choice Angus burgers, Kraft House Italian dressing and Country Harvest tortillas. Hellmann's mayonnaise under-delivered on the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, as did Kashi's honey almond flax cereal.

Specialty products that overstated one these so-called "good fats" include Natur-a soy beverages, So Good fortified soy beverage, Ruth's cereal, and Mom's Healthy Secrets cereal.

GoldSeal canned salmon, Ocean's canned salmon, Our Compliments salmon burgers and High Liner salmon were among the fish products that overstated the amount of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids.

Salt:
Some products pitched as reduced in sodium didn't live up to their billing, including Heinz "25 per cent less sodium" Dora the Explorer vegetable and pasta soup, Eden Organic "low salt" canned green lentils, rice and beans, R.W. Knudsen Family "low sodium" vegetable cocktail, "50 per cent less sodium" President Choice crackers, and "low sodium" President's Choice tomato and roasted red pepper soup.

There were also "unsatisfactory" discrepancies in three different Bread Works Bakery "low in sodium" cracker products, with one containing 277.8 mg of sodium, not 70 mg, according to CFIA tests.

Two different cans of Unico artichokes, picked up four months apart, were found to be saltier than claimed on the Nutrition Facts Table.

Calories:
"Light tasting" Nutriwhip testing showed 68 calories per portion, not 20 as claimed on the label. A green tea beverage from Tempest Tea claimed to contain just 5 calories, but testing showed 106 calories per portion.


If it could happen in Canada, do you think it could happen here?

Twitter:


First Posted as 

Food Labels: Real or Really? April 21, 2012.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Winter's Tale: UnitedHealth & Big Profits






Winter’s Tale, Tristram Kenton Guardian

Hermione: "You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely". -

(Act I, Scene I). The Winter’s Tale.






Jul 20, 2010
UnitedHealth Profit Jumps as Medicare, Medicaid Grow
UnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer by sales, raised its full-year profit forecast after increased enrollments and lower-than-projected medical costs lifted second-quarter earnings 30 percent.

The insurer forecast 2010 profit of $3.40 to $3.60 a share compared with a previous projection of $3.15 to $3.35, citing growth in sales or membership for all business units. Net income rose to $1.12 billion, or 99 cents a share, for the quarter, from $859 million, or 73 cents, a year earlier, the company said today. The earnings and forecast topped estimates.

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley boosted enrollment in Medicare Advantage, the U.S.-backed program for the elderly. Weakness in the economic recovery in the U.S. also helped, by keeping people away from doctors and hospitals, said Jason Gurda, a Leerink Swann & Co. analyst in New York. UnitedHealth did better than expected for commercial enrollment, taking business from rival insurers, he said.

October 18, 2006
UnitedHealth's Options Scandal Shows Familiar Symptoms

Stephen Hemsley, who upon being hired in June 1997 was presented with 400,000 stock options with an issue date of five months earlier. Hemsley told the Wilmer Hale lawyers that he "didn't recall focusing at the time" on the $2.9 million gimme he'd just been handed as a result of the backdating.

You might say that Hemsley comes honestly to his lack of focus and ethical sensitivity. Before coming to UnitedHealth -- I'm not making this up -- he'd spent the previous 23 years at Arthur Andersen, rising to chief financial officer. That's the same accounting firm that helped bring you Enron, WorldCom and Freddie Mac. And, you'll be shocked to learn, it's the same Arthur Andersen that served as a consultant to Spears and other members of UnitedHealth's compensation committee.

Hemsley was rewarded for his lack of focus by being named to succeed McGuire as chief executive. He was also directed to root out the senior executives in the legal, accounting and personnel departments who provided the bad advice on which the board and chief executive now say they have relied. Hemsley, too, has volunteered to reprice his options.

The reward:
Chief executive Stephen Hemsley pulled in $102 million in 2009, with $98.6 million coming from exercised stock options, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday.    Star Tribune

Friday 16 July 2010
The Minnesota-based firm beat Bupa and Humana to win the contract from the health department to advise PCTs

The Minnesota-based UnitedHealth has already become a key adviser to primary care trusts (PCTs) on commissioning health services and operating bids to run GP practices. Earlier this month it beat Bupa and Humana, another US health insurer, to win the contract from the health department to advise PCTs.
The decision follows successful bids to run two GP practices in Derbyshire in 2006 and three practices in central London in 2008, taking over from the Brunswick Group. In April the company announced a 21% increase in profits for the first three months of the year to $1.2bn (£784m).
United said it brought high level management expertise and efficient provision of services to the UK health service but it has faced accusations of overcharging and malpractice in a series of legal suits.
New York Settlement:
January 15, 2009 
UnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer, said it will spend $400 million to settle allegations it has manipulated payments to doctors and patients for the last 15 years.
The company agreed to put $350 million into a class-action restitution fund to pay physicians and policyholders for services provided by out-of-network providers, the company said in a statement today. On Jan. 13, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based insurer settled allegations from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by paying $50 million and transferring to a nonprofit group its database that set the amount to be reimbursed when patients used doctors outside their network.
UnitedHealth has been battling the largest physician group, the American Medical Association, over out-of-network costs since 2000. The settlement affects less than 10 percent of health benefits because most policyholders use their health plan’s network providers to minimize out-of-pocket expenses. Still, the AMA said it stopped rampant cheating Its California subsidiary was fined a record $3.5m in the same year for mishandled claims against patients and doctors. In 2006 The UnitedHealth chief executive William McGuire resigned after an investigation "concluded he had received stock option grants 'likely backdated' to allow insiders to maximise financial gains." During his tenure as chief executive, McGuire was granted more than $1.6bn in stock options. In 2007, McGuire avoided trial after he agreed to repay $468m.


In one example, Cuomo’s office said that when $200 was a fair-market rate for a 15-minute doctor’s visit for a common illness, Ingenix said it was $77. UnitedHealth would pay $62 when it should have paid $160, leaving the consumer with a $138 bill.


The British Medical Association may now have a new role.





The future is here now:







Related:








An Entrepreneur!



3 comments:

Julie said...
Not forgetting of course that Accenture (previously Andersen Consulting) withdrew from the Connecting for Health programme and was fined only £63 million as opposed to the £1 billion it should have been fined. But the Director of the Connecting for Health programme was one Richard Granger, who had previously worked for Andersen Consulting. I'm sure it was a complete coincidence..
Cockroach Catcher said...
Absolutely right. The best money is government money, i.e. taxpayer's money.
Anonymous said...
There is clear evidence that most hospitals will be privately run and there will be no publicly employed staff.

In the new system, the hospitals will fight to get the case seen and treated in order to secure the money.

If the contract is not a block contract, money will run out and GPs will get the blame.

The new private companies "helping" GPs will award themselves with high bonuses. Where is the money from, the same pot.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

NHS & Ham: World Class Medicine without trying!

Those doctors that grew up here may not know but those of us from overseas looked forward to coming for our specialist training in this country. A number of us went to the US and they did well too. There was little doubt that for many the years of training in the top hospitals here will guarantee them nice top jobs in Hong Kong or the rest of the commonwealth. 

Why?

We provided World Class Medicine without trying. A quote from a fellow blogger, Dr. No.


Dr No said...
Excellent post - and yes, that is exactly how it used to be. World class medicine without even trying - we just did it, because that is what we did, just as the dolphin swims, and the eagle soars. A key, even vital feature was that the doctors looking after their patients did not need to worry about money or managers. They just got on with it. There was no market to get in the way of truly integrated care. Some may point out that 13 year olds with teratomas are rare, and that is true, but what this case shows us, precisely because of its complexity, is just how capable the system was. And most of the time (of course not always), it dealt just as capably with more routine cases. "How is (sic) the new Consortia going to work out the funding and how are the three Foundation Trust Hospitals going to work out the costs." Exactly. And then: who is going to pay for the staff and their time to work out out all those costs and conduct the transactions?
What many politicians may not know is that pride in what we do is often more important than money or anything else. Our pride is one sure way to ensure quality of practice.

Do we really want to take that away now? Years of heartless re-organisation has left many of us dedicated doctors disillusioned. Many young ones have left. Poorly trained doctors that have no right to be practising medicine now even have jobs in some of these well known hospitals. 

Can we continue to practise World Class Medicine even if we wanted to?


Here is a reprint:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011





It is well known that we as doctors do not have all the answers and we can only base our diagnosis and treatment on current knowledge.


Patients or their relatives are used to trust the judgement of doctors and always hope for a better or even miraculous outcome. Their faith in their doctor is often supplemented by their own religious faith.


David Cameron is no different and he has stated so on record.


I am not here to analyse his faith.


I am here to re-tell one of the stories of hope and faith I have experienced as a very junior consultant in 1978:

The Mayo of the United Kingdom
The year was 1978 and I was employed by one of the fourteen Regional Health Authorities. The perceived wisdom was to allow consultants freedom from Area and District control that may not be of benefit to the NHS as a whole so the local Area or District Health did not hold our contracts. Even for matters like Annual Leave and Study Leave we dealt directly with RHA.


Referrals were accepted from GPs and we could refer to other specialists within the Region or to the any of the major London Centres of excellence. Many of us were trained by some of these centres and we respected them. They were the Mayos and Clevelands and Hopkins of the United Kingdom.  


Money or funding never came into it and we truly had a most integrated service.
We used to practice real, good and economical medicine.


The unusual cases:
Child Psychiatry like many other disciplines in medicine does not follow rules and do not function like supermarkets. Supermarkets have very advanced systems to track customer demands and they can maximise profit and keep cost down. In medicine we do sometimes get unusual cases that would have been a nightmare for the supermarket trained managers.

As it is so difficult to plan for the unusual it will become even more difficult if the present government had its way (and there is every sign that they will), not only will the reformed NHS find it difficult to cope with the unusual, it will find it extremely difficult to cope with emergencies.

Supermarket:
Why? These cases cost money and in the new world of Supermarket Styled NHS, they have to be dealt with! For that reason, not all NHS hospitals will be failed by Monitor. Some will need to be kept in order that someone could then deal with unprofitable cases. They will be the new fall guys.

But supermarkets can get things wrong too. In Spain after the Christmas of 2009 there were 4 million unsold hams.


©Am Ang Zhang 2010


Back to the patient:

Would my patient be dealt with in the same way in 2011?


     GP to Paediatrician: 13 year old with one stiff arm. Seen the same day.
     Paediatrician to me: ? Psychosis or even Catatonia. 
           Seen same day and admitted to Paediatric Ward, DGH.
     Child Psychiatrist to Gynaecologist: ? Pregnancy or tumour. Still the same day.
     Gynaecologist to Radiologist: Unlikely to be pregnant, ? Ovarian cyst.
     Radiologist (Hospital & no India based): Tell tale tooth: Teratoma.
     Gynaecologist: Operation on emergency basis with Paediatric Anaethetics Consultant. Still Day 1.
     Patient unconscious and transferred to GOS on same day. Seen by various Professors.
     Patient later transferred to Queen’s Square (National Hospital for Nervous Diseases), 
             Seen by more Professors.
     Regained consciousness after 23 days.
     Eventually transferred back to local Hospital.


None of the Doctor to Doctor decisions need to be referred to managers.


We did not have Admission Avoidance then. 

How is the new Consortia going to work out the funding and how are the three Foundation Trust Hospitals going to work out the costs.


The danger is that the patient may not even get to see the first Specialist: Paediatrician not to say the second one: me.


Not to mention the operation etc. and the transfer to the Centres of excellence.


Here is an extract from my book The Cockroach Catcher:  Chapter 29 The Power of Prayers
Just like Mayo Clinic:
“…….Mayo offers proof that when a like-minded group of doctors practice medicine to the very best of their ability—without worrying about the revenues they are bringing in for the hospital, the fees they are accumulating for themselves, or even whether the patient can pay—patients satisfaction is higher, physicians are happier, and the medical bills are lower.”
But it is probably too late:


          …………Something else was going on here, and I was not happy because I did not know what it was. I was supposed to know and I generally did. After all I was the consultant now.

          Thank goodness she could breathe without assistance. That was the first thing I noticed. I saw mother in the corner obviously in tears. She asked if her daughter would be all right. I cannot remember what I said but knowing myself I could not have said anything too discouraging. But then I knew I was in tricky territory and it was unlikely to be the territory of a child psychiatrist.

          A good doctor is one who is not afraid to ask for help but he must also know where to ask.

          “Get me Great Ormond Street.”

          “I already did.”

          She is going to be a good doctor.

          “Well, the Regional unit said that they had no beds so I thought I should ring up my classmate at GOS and she talked to her SR who said “send her in”.”

          Who needs consultants when juniors have that kind of network?  This girl will do well.

          “Everything has been set up. The ambulance will be here in about half an hour and if it is all right I would like to go with her.”

          “Yes, you do and thanks a lot.”

          I told mother that we were transferring her daughter to the best children’s hospital in England if not in the world and the doctor would stay with her in the ambulance. She would be fine.


“........Ten years later mother came to see my secretary and left a photo. It was a photo of her daughter and her new baby. She had been working at the local bank since she left school, met a very nice man and now she had a baby. Mother thought I might remember them and perhaps I would be pleased with the outcome. 

"I was very pleased for them too but I would hate for anyone to put faith or god to such a test too often."

David Cameron, if it was your plan not to have an integrated service, then there is not much we ordinary people could do except pray. If it was not your intention, then could you let us have an integrated service! That way you would not need many accountants and you will save money in doing so.




Pulse: GP consortium chairs are overwhelmingly opposed to any requirement to include hospital consultants on their boards, viewing it as a serious conflict of interest that would undermine the commissioning process, finds a Pulse survey.

King’s Fund: Million £ GP.

See also:

NYBG: Orchids



New York Botanic Garden©2014 Am Ang Zhang