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Health Highlights: July 2, 2019


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

Lawsuit Challenges Mississippi Law on Labeling of Meatless Products

A Mississippi law that bans terms such as "meatless meatballs" and "vegan bacon" on plant-based food labels violates free-speech rights, opponents allege in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The law states that "a plant-based or insect-based food product shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product," the Associated Press reported.

But the lawsuit says the law "serves only to create consumer confusion where none previously existed."

The lawsuit was launched by the Plant Based Foods Association and Illinois-based Upton's Naturals Co., which makes vegan products. They're backed by the free-market advocacy group Institute for Justice, the AP reported.

Last year, a lawsuit was filed against a Missouri law that made it a misdemeanor to label plant-based products as meat. That legal challenge was launched by vegetarian food products maker Tofurky Co. and The Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for alternatives to meat.

In Louisiana, a law scheduled to take effect in October 2020 forbids vegetable products from being called meat, non-rice products from being called rice and sugar alternatives from being called sugar, the AP reported.

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Vermont Places 92% Tax on E-Cigarettes

A 92% tax on e-cigarettes took effect in Vermont on Monday as the state tries to reduce young people's use of the devices.

That rate means that e-cigarettes will now cost about the same as combustible cigarettes, CBS News reported.

The e-cigarette tax increase bill was sponsored by State Rep. George Till, who said it will help keep the products out of the hands of youngsters.

"We know the group that is most sensitive to price is teenager," he told CBS News. "And we know that these companies are going out of their way to get kids addicted."

Two other measures meant to reduce youth smoking also took effect in Vermont on Monday. One raised the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products to 21 from 18, and the other restricts retail and online sales of tobacco and related products, CBS News reported.

Just last week, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban the sale, distribution and manufacturing of e-cigarette products.

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Packaged Vegetables Recalled by Growers Express

Packaged varieties of butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini and a butternut squash-based veggie bowls have been recalled by Growers Express due to possible listeria contamination.

Most of the recalled products are labeled with a "Best If Used By" date of June 26- June 29, 2019 and were sold at numerous retailers in dozens of states.

No illnesses associated with the recalled products have been reported, according to Maine-based Growers Express.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. It can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

In healthy people, listeria can cause high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

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Flesh-Eating Bacteria Claims Life of Florida Woman

A Florida woman died late last week from flesh-eating bacteria two weeks after cutting her leg while walking along the coast.

Carolyn "Lynn" Fleming, 77, lived in Ellenton and visited Coquina Beach, near St. Petersburg, on June 14. While wading in the water, she stumbled and suffered a small cut her on her left shin, CNN reported.

Initially, Fleming was fine, but she was hospitalized June 17 and diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, commonly called flesh-eating bacteria. She had surgeries to combat the dangerous infection, and suffered two strokes and kidney failure.

She was eventually put on life support and died on June 27, CNN reported.

By sharing her story, Fleming's family hopes to educate others and save lives.

"We are not discouraging people from spending time at the beach," son Wade Fleming told CNN "We've met many people from Florida who said they've never heard of necrotizing fasciitis."

There are about 700 to 1,200 cases of necrotizing fasciitis reported each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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