Health Highlights: Feb. 9, 2008

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to heightened oversight by regulators for five years. Merck remains the subject of a separate grand jury investigation related to Vioxx marketing. It's also trying to reach another multibillion-dollar settlement of thousands of lawsuits filed by people who had heart attacks after taking Vioxx.

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Expanded Recall of New Era Canned Vegetables

A nationwide recall of canned vegetable products made by the New Era Canning Company of Michigan is being expanded for a third time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. The recalled products may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, which produces the toxin that causes botulism. Infection with the toxin can cause life-threatening illness or death.

The recalled New Era products are large institutional-sized cans, weighing between six and seven pounds, of various types of beans, blackeye peas, and asparagus. They're marketed under ten different brand names: Classic Sysco; Code; Frosty Acres Restaurant's Pride Preferred; GFS; Kitchen Essentials; Monarch Heritage; Necco; New Era; Nugget; and Reliance Sysco.

To date, no illnesses have been reported to the FDA. Consumers should not consume these products, even if they appear to be normal, because of the potential serious risk to health. Consumers who have the affected products, or who have used them in recipes, should immediately throw the cans and food away, the FDA said.

A complete list of specific brands, products, and lot codes subject to the New Era recalls can be found at the FDA Web site. Consumers with questions can call the FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

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