Allergies, new FDA food safety rules & more

Help with seasonal allergies plus more on measles hotspots

April 16, 2024

Hello and welcome back to the Executive Briefing. Our team is at the Restaurant Leadership Conference this week - stop by to say hi to Roslyn and Molly if you’re at RLC in Phoenix, too! 

Health News:

  • A new report highlights the risk of a smallpox resurgence. (Houston Chronicle)
  • NYC is seeing an increase in human leptospirosis, a disease caused by rat urine, which can cause kidney failure and liver damage if untreated. (Bloomberg)
  • An invasive species of dengue-carrying mosquito has been found in San Jose, CA. (SF Chronicle)
  • There is no link between COVID vaccine and cardiac arrest in young people, the CDC confirmed this week. (USA Today)
  • Younger people in wealthy NYC neighborhoods snatched up COVID vaccines reserved for seniors. (CIDRAP)
  • The EEOC released final rules for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act this week, which include time off for childbirth and abortion. (SHRM)
  • The point-of-care norovirus test market has reached $130.4 billion. (Yahoo Finance)
  • Another cruise ship noro outbreak was reported, this time with 30 sick passengers out of 633 on a Silversea cruise. (USA Today) 
  • A ransomware gang has begun leaking patient data from the major Change Healthcare hack. (Axios)
  • Tortillas and corn masa sold in California may need to add folic acid under a new bill. (Mercury News)

Mental Health & Substance Use News:

  • Women in particular, have rising complications from alcohol use. (NY Times)
  • Some social psychologists believe anxious kids need less screen time and more autonomy. (NPR)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

Best Questions:

Any advice for controlling bad allergies? 

Yes! Start on allergy meds early, ideally at least two weeks before your symptoms start - now is a great time since April and May are peak times for spring allergens. If you’re already feeling it, start your seasonal allergy medications immediately. Consider your options - there are seasonal allergy pills like Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec and nasal sprays like Flonase. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for specific advice on which allergy medications to take, but most allergy specialists advise getting started on those meds early since it can take a few weeks for them to take full effect. The other thing that really works is decontamination. It sounds crazy, but it’s incredibly effective and totally free. Take off your outdoor clothes and take a shower after you’ve been outside on a particularly high-pollen day to alleviate symptoms. 

Source: Inside Medicine

Are there specific measles hotspots we should look out for? 

Unfortunately, measles cases are continuing to rise across the country, with new cases reported in California, Illinois, and Ohio this week. With eight more cases, we’ve now hit 121 total cases in 18 jurisdictions - leaving us on track to blow last year’s numbers out of the water. At least two of this week’s new cases are in travelers - tourists and visitors from out of town who stay in hotels, visit local attractions and dine out at restaurants during their visits. Most of these (about 86 of the 121 total) are linked to seven specific outbreaks, including larger ones like those at a Chicago migrant shelter and a Florida elementary school. So far, these newer cases aren’t linked to larger outbreaks yet, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on them. 


What’s going on with a new Salmonella outbreak? 

There’s an outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium with 11 cases from an unknown source. Previous food-related outbreaks of this bacteria in the past few years have been linked to alfalfa sprouts, cantaloupe, salad greens, dried coconut, and chicken salad. Right now, it’s still too early to know what exactly the cause is, but the FDA is working on traceback to find if there’s a specific product or food linked to this outbreak. There’s nothing specific you need to do right now to prepare, but following proper food safety guidelines when handling your fruits and vegetables is the best way to protect your employees and customers from this type of Salmonella outbreak. 

Sources: FDA, CDC

Best Read:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House introduced the “Food Traceability Enhancement Act” recently. The lobby representing food retailers has applauded the bill, but others worry that it carves grocery and retail out of federal FDA food safety regulations. 

Bill pushed by grocers would gut FDA food safety rules, critics say - STAT