Imported spices carry salmonella risk

The Food and Drug Administration says that almost 7 percent of imported spices inspected over a three-year period were contaminated with salmonella.

In a report released Wednesday, the FDA says testing of imported spices between 2007 and 2010 showed that spices were twice as likely as other inspected foods to be contaminated with the pathogen.

More than 80 different types of salmonella were detected.

In 2009 and 2010, black pepper and red pepper from India, Vietnam and China used in salami caused hundreds of illnesses.

The FDA said there have been 14 known outbreaks around the world since 1973, causing almost 2,000 illnesses, many of which were in children.

The FDA said that in the three-year period, 749 shipments of spice were refused entry into the United States because of salmonella contamination while 238 other shipments were denied because of the presence of what the FDA calls “filth” — insects, excrement, hair or other materials.

— Associated Press

Planet resembles
a super-hot Earth

Scientists have found a planet way out in the cosmos that’s close in size and content to Earth — an astronomical first.

But this rocky world is so close to its sun that it’s at least 2,000 degrees hotter than our planet, almost certainly too hot for life.

Astrophysicists reported Wednesday in the journal Nature that the exoplanet Kepler-78b appears to be made of rock and iron just like Earth. They measured the planet’s mass to determine its density and content. It’s actually a little bigger than Earth and nearly double its mass, or weight.

Kepler-78b is in the Cygnus constellation hundreds of light-years away. Incredibly, it orbits its sun every 81 / 2 hours, a mystery to astronomers who doubt it could have formed or moved that close to a star.

— Associated Press

Gates to be next
head of Boy Scouts

Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates will serve as the next president of the Boy Scouts of America, taking the helm of a national executive board that remains tangled in controversy over the organization’s policies toward gays, BSA announced Wednesday.

Gates’s two-year term to the volunteer position begins in May, once he’s formally approved by the voting members of the Boy Scouts’ National Council. He will succeed current BSA President Wayne Perry. Gates was an Eagle Scout before he began his career in public service, which included leading the CIA and the Defense Department. He retired as defense secretary two years ago.

As defense secretary, Gates helped oversee the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay soldiers. The Boy Scouts opened its ranks this year to gay Scouts, but not gay leaders. Gay rights groups praised Gates’s appointment and called on him to push BSA a step further and allow gay leaders and adult volunteers.

— Associated Press

NYC votes to raise age for buying cigarettes: The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to raise the age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21. It also approved a bill that sets a minimum $10.50-a-pack price for tobacco cigarettes.

Guard recruiter indicted in shooting: A Tennessee National Guard recruiter was indicted Wednesday on charges that he tried to kill four of his superiors last Thursday at an armory north of Memphis. Sgt. 1st Class Amos Patton, who appeared in federal court in Memphis, was indicted on nine counts.

— Associated Press