Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is expanding the scope of its peanut butter and peanut products recall. Their recall initially included products produced at its Blakely, Georgia plant since August 1, 2008. Now the recall is for all products produced at the Georgia plant since January 1, 2007. PCA is recalling two years worth of peanuts and peanut products. The number of recalled products has also expanded to include all peanuts (dry and oil roasted), granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut butter and peanut paste. Pet food is also included in this new expanded recall. Some of PCA’s peanut products are used in the manufacturing of pet food. These additional recalls are all the result of a salmonella outbreak, that PCA KNEW about and did NOTHING to prevent. Over 500 people have fallen ill from salmonella caused by tainted PCA products. Eight people have died as a result. Salmonella is a very serious infection and it can be fatal. Even pet food infected with salmonella can be dangerous if people do not thoroughly wash their hands after handling pet treats. Pets can also suffer from salmonella infections caused by contaminated pet food. The worst part about all of this is PCA knew about the risk of salmonella. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), PCA’s own tests found strains of salmonella 12 different times in 2007 and 2008 at their Georgia plant. PCA failed to properly respond to the discovery of salmonella. Instead PCA “lab shopped,” meaning it had the infected products re-tested at a different lab. The second test found the products were negative for salmonella and then the company shipped them out. PCA knew salmonella contaminated these products and yet they did nothing. Proper procedure dictates once salmonella is discovered, the entire lot is supposed to be destroyed, not shipped out for consumption. In addition, PCA never took any steps to clean their facility or other measure to prevent cross-contamination once they discovered the salmonella. These problems have been ongoing at PCA and STILL were not rectified when the FDA inspected the Georgia plant in the month of January. According to the FDA testing, it found salmonella in peanut butter paste, peanut meal, peanut butter, peanut granules and oil-roasted, salted peanuts. But salmonella was not the only problems found at PCA’s plant. The FDA also found roaches near the production and packaging areas. PCA’s ventilation system was also inadequate to prevent salmonella contamination in other parts of the plant. PCA’s actions are deplorable. They knew about the salmonella contamination of their products but sent them to consumers anyway. Because of PCA, eight people have died and over 500 have gotten sick. These numbers will rise as more products get recalled. The FDA is still investigating PCA and more horror stories are likely to appear. Click here for more info.

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Here we are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Unfortunately, for some it is a very sad time of year because their loved ones have been involved in some type of alcohol-related accident. Whether the innocent victim or the careless driver the consequences of drunk driving can be devastating. It is estimated that as many as 3 out of every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. Make the decision now to be responsible. Do not drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and do not assume the risk of letting someone intoxicated drive you. Drink responsibility the life you save may be your own! Click on the link below and gauge your knowledge about other drinking and driving facts. Holiday Driving Safety Quiz

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causes serious diseases and death. Although people have likely heard of asbestos and the diseases it causes, like mesothelioma, they may not be aware of all its dangers. Asbestos is an on-going problem, which will continue to inflict pain and suffering until its use in products is prohibited. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which forms fibers. There are three types of asbestos found throughout the world. It is used in building materials, such as insulation. Millions of tons of asbestos have been used in industrial sites, homes, mills, factories, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings. Asbestos fibers are inhaled through the air. Most people are exposed while working and never know it. Even family members of workers may be affected as asbestos fibers can be transported on clothing. The dangerous side effects of asbestos has been known for years. In the early 1900’s, doctors were beginning to notice the connections between asbestos dust inhalation and the death of industrial workers. By now, the evidence is undisputed about the dangers of asbestos. It has been linked to many devastating illnesses. Asbestosis is a benign, non-cancerous disease caused by asbestos. The fibers of the asbestos are inhaled through the air and cause irritation to lung tissue. The asbestos fibers cause scarring and inflammation of the lungs. This can lead to breathing difficulties, including respiratory failure. Unfortunately asbestosis can also lead to mesothelioma and lung cancer. Other complications include tuberculosis, inflammation of the tissue lining the lungs (pleurisy) and heart failure. Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma has a latency period of 20-50 years, meaning you could be exposed to asbestos in 1960 and could still develop cancer in 2010. Due to this extremely long time period, it is estimated there will be roughly 250,000 cases of mesothelioma before 2020. Mesothelioma can be treated with surgery, which involves the removal of the cancer, chemotherapy or radiation. Mesothelioma is an unusual cancer because it is not caused by cigarette smoking, but caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure has also be linked to other cancers including: larynx cancer, upper throat cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer and cancer of the gall bladder. Asbestos exposure can also cause problems in the lungs, lung cancer and pleural disease. The latency period for lung cancer is between 20-30 years. It has been shown that cigarette smokers who are exposed to asbestos are more likely to develop lung cancer than a person who is either a cigarette smoker or exposed to asbestos. Pleural lung disease is caused by asbestos exposure affecting the lining of the lungs. The asbestos fibers cause scarring of the lungs and pleural calcification. Pleural calcification is calcium deposits in the areas of the lung where there was damage. The lining of the lung can also thicken and affect the ability of the lung to expand, which impairs breathing. Even knowing all of the dangers associated with asbestos and how people are exposed, the federal government has not done enough to lower exposure levels. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did pass an Asbestos Ban & Phase Out Rule. The rule banned most asbestos containing products. But only two years later, the rule was overturned in a courtroom proceeding. However, there has been some success. Some asbestos containing products are banned: roll board, flooring felt and corrugated, commercial and specialty paper. Any new products, those that did not historically contain asbestos, are also banned. But why hasn’t the government done more? Current estimates the cost of asbestos litigation in the U.S. is $250 billion. Even the financial cost, much less the human cost has not prompted a complete asbestos ban. Asbestos containing materials are still being used in the United States. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a permissible asbestos exposure level for workers and other safety measures to reduce exposure, such as protective clothing, labeling and record keeping of exposure. Nevertheless, with new advances in technology, it seems we could find an asbestos substitute that doesn’t have these dangerous side effects. We have known about the dangerous of asbestos for almost 100 years, what does it take for the government to realize a complete asbestos ban is necessary to protect the health and safety of U.S. workers?

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Home heating equipment, particularly space heaters are the one of the leading causes of home fires. Almost 50% of home heating equipment fires occur during December, January and February. Heaters cause over 60,000 home fires per year resulting in 670 deaths, 1,500 injuries and over $900 million dollars in property damage. Space heaters specifically account for one third of all home heating fires and nearly three fourths of deaths. Some people use space heaters as their primary heating source. However, space heaters are not meant to be used that way. In addition, other attempts to heat homes with generators or stoves can cause dangerous problems. They emit carbon monoxide or CO, which is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. CO is toxic and the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths. Following these few tips can help ensure you are both warm and safe during the wintertime. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater. Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Never use your oven for heating. Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional. Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. For fuel burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer. Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home. For wood burning stoves, install chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional to the installation. Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and windows. Call a gas service person. Test smoke alarms at least monthly.

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The holiday season is almost here and many people celebrate with trees and decorations which may cause fires. It is important to make sure your holiday celebrations are not destroyed by any mishaps. Sadly tree related fires are more common than people think. Each year tree fires cause devastating results, 40 fatalities, 250 injuries and $80 million in damages. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates between December 1st-14th there are an average of one Christmas tree fire per day. That risk doubles to almost eight Christmas tree fires per day between December 15th-January 1st. Usually electrical light shorts and candles are the main cause of Christmas tree fires. Tree fires spread very quickly, in less than a minute; the entire tree can be engulfed with flames and start spreading to other parts of the room. Fires caused by open flame candles are another concern. Roughly 13,000 house fires are caused each year by candles, which result in nearly 200 deaths. These tragic incidents can be avoided. These tips can help make your holiday safe and happy. Trees: When buying an artificial tree, make sure the label says it is fire resistant. When buying a live tree, look for a fresh tree. A fresh tree is green and the needles are hard to pull off. When you shake the tree on the ground, only a few needles should fall off. Check the bottom of the tree to make sure the tree has resin. Be sure to cut off a few inches of the tree’s trunk before setting it up. This helps to prevent the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Be careful to set up the tree away from any heaters, fireplaces or other sources of heat. Do not put the tree in front of any doorways. Make sure the tree is secure and stable to prevent it from tipping or falling over. If you have a live tree, water it frequently. Water keeps the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Cutting the tree’s trunk makes it easier for the tree to absorb water. A wet tree is a safe tree. Keep candles and other flammable materials away from the tree. Tree Decorations & Holiday Decorations: Do not decorate the tree with any flammable or combustible materials. Keep fragile or sharp ornaments out of the reach of children. Avoid using any ornaments or decorations, which children might think are eatable. Avoid using tinsel or ribbons around small children. Make sure any tree lights have a UL listed tag. Do not use any light strings with broken sockets, loose connections or frayed wires. Replace any missing or broken light bulbs. Turn off the tree lights when going to bed or leaving the house. Never use an extension cord to hold more than three strands of lights. Keep poinsettias away from pets, as they can be poisonous. Keep fragile decorations out of the reach of children. Keep candles out of the reach of children and never leave a burning candle unattended. Fireplaces: Before lighting a fire, make sure the flue is open and the chimney has been cleaned. Remove all decorations on the fireplace mantel and decorations around the fireplace. Be sure to place a protective screen in front of the fire. Instruct children to stay away from the fire and do not leave children unattended near the fireplace. Do not burn wrapping paper. Remove any combustible or flammable materials near the fireplace. Hanging Outside Holiday Lights Tips Hanging lights outdoors can be dangerous. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there are over 180,000 ladder related emergency room visits each year. There are also 150 deaths reported as a result of ladder accidents. It is always important to use a ladder and have another person to help you hang lights. Never hang lights if there is a strong wind or rain. Most ladders are metal and can conduct electricity. Follow these tips to safely hang outdoor lights. Check the label on the lights; make sure they are designated for outside use. Outside lights are usually only good for about 90 days, so discard outside lights after three seasons. Discard any light strings and extension cords if broken bulbs, frayed wires or loose connections. Check your ladder for any problems before using it. Make sure your ladder is on a firm stable surface. Only use your ladder for its designated purposes. Do not reach more than 12 inches off the ladder. Never move the ladder while still standing on it. Keep both feet on the ladder. When moving up and down the ladder be sure to face it at all time. Never step above the topmost-labeled step.

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Personal injury lawyers charge a 1/3 of your settlement fee, so you want to hire the lawyer who will get you the best settlement.  A good lawyer doesn’t cost you more, they get you more.  Choose a lawyer who has many years of experience in handling cases like yours and has an office near you.

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You will be able to collect for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Determining how much your pain and suffering is worth is where our expertise comes in the most.

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