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Focus on Beverage Tampering

April 10, 1986|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

Hoping to prevent the product tampering which riddled the the drug industry earlier this year, the publishers of a wine newsletter are sponsoring a conference on how the alcohol beverage industry can circumvent similar problems.

The event, scheduled for April 29 at George Washington University in Washington, will discuss the likelihood of terrorism or extortion hitting wine, beer or spirit manufacturers. This segment of the beverage industry is particularly vulnerable to tampering, according to the Wine Industry News, the event sponsor.

Not only must the companies involved with these products prepare for the "terrorist, fanatic or lunatic," but must also be leery of social activists whose agenda calls for limiting or outlawing sales of alcohol beverages, a flyer for the conference states.

Among those scheduled to speak are former CIA deputy director Ray S. Cline; Frank Mankiewicz, a public relations executive who has served as president of National Public Radio; and Joseph B. Margolin, a clinical psychologist and U.S. State Department consultant. Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will also participate.

Conferees will hear presentations on preventing and detecting contamination along with dealing with the media and the public once a problem is isolated.

Wine Industry News, in its promotional material, states that anti-Israeli terror groups are of particular concern.

"Attention will be given to the large Jewish ownership and management role in the American alcohol beverage industry in light of apparent increasing state-sponsored terrorism," the announcement stated.

Accepting Higher Risks--For decades, the Food and Drug Administration has operated under a charter that states any level of a cancer-causing agent is unacceptable in the nation's food supply. The agency has apparently abandoned that guideline as unenforceable, according to a recent article in Discovery magazine.

The FDA announced a change in policy which allows minute levels of carcinogens, or potentially harmful drugs, in meat and fowl as long as there are fewer than one in a million chances that the substances may create tumors or illness, the magazine reported.

One FDA official quoted in the story stated: "There are some risks in living that we must accept. Before, we said we were going to get rid of carcinogens. We've been disabused of that fantasy."

Permitting slight levels of carcinogens is also likely to be allowed in other foods, drugs and cosmetics, according to Discovery.

Searching for "C"--A new testing procedure that can determine an individual's Vitamin C level has been developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, according to the agency. The availability of such a test is crucial to burn patients or those recovering from surgery, two groups who are normally deficient in the important nutrient.

Vitamin C precipitates healing of wounds and maintains the integrity of teeth, gums, bones and joints.

In the past, laboratory analyses were slow to pinpoint a patient's Vitamin C level. There were also difficulties in distinguishing between Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) levels in the body and those of a similar substance, isoascorbic acid, a chemical used as a food additive.

The recent breakthrough, which can alert attending medical personnel when an individual's Vitamin C level is becoming dangerously low, was a joint effort at the USDA's Western Human Nutrition Research Center in San Francisco. The researchers involved include Stanley T. Omaye, Mark A. Kutnink and James H. Skala.

In addition to its use in hospital situations, the new test is also applicable in less severe cases. Physicians might find it especially useful for isolating deficiencies among teen-agers who are following deficient fad diets and the elderly who fail to eat enough Vitamin C-rich foods, an agency representative stated.

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