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Drug Safety, Tainted Food Among Year's Top Health Stories
Date:12/31/2007

without health insurance in 2006, compared to 44.8 million the year before -- a 0.5 percent rise and the biggest number of U.S. uninsured ever. Almost one in five children living below the poverty line now has no health insurance, the August report found.

In December, another report, this time from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimated that about 20 percent of Americans either can't afford or can't access health care. And a Consumer Reports survey released last summer found half of those surveyed admitting that they were financially "unprepared" for a medical emergency -- including 43 percent of people with some form of insurance.

Hidden Dangers in Food, Toys

In 2007, American consumers filled their grocery bags with increasing trepidation following massive, nationwide food recalls. These included beef patties contaminated with E. coli bacteria; salmonella-tainted peanut butter; botulism found in canned green beans, chili sauce and corned beef hash; Shigella-laced baby carrots; Listeria in chicken breasts -- and the list went on.

Even the nation's pets weren't immune: Throughout the spring, a widening probe into the deaths of more than 330 dogs and cats dominated the headlines. The suspected culprit: melamine, found in a wide variety of pet foods and added as a cheap filler by food suppliers in China.

The "Made in China" label came under further scrutiny after an ongoing rash of toy recalls -- everything from lead-tainted charm bracelets to Aqua Dots toys laced with the date-rape drug GHB.

Many experts criticized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for poor oversight of both domestic and imported products. Bowing to pressure, the agency in November issued tough new proposals, including better financing and broader powers with which to tackle the problem.

Legislative Moves Toward Healthier Food

The federal and local g
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