FDA halts operations of organic peanut butter maker, Sunland, after earlier salmonella outbreak; California cancer mapping shows cancer clusters in Bay Area; and an overview of public health and the fiscal cliff.  Read these and more public health news stories for Nov. 27, 2012.

Los Angeles Times – FDA halts operations of organic peanut butter processor Sunland
The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations of the country’s largest organic peanut butter processor, cracking down on salmonella poisoning for the first time with the new enforcement authority the agency gained in a 2011 food safety law.

Huffington Post – Time to stop marketing food to kids
I recently gave several talks at the American Public Health Association conference, an annual gathering of some 12,000 enthusiastic public health professionals. In years past, not many presentations (other than my own) focused on the role of corporations to harm the public’s health. I am happy to report this is changing, as numerous panels struck such a theme. The following is a summary of my talk on the recent failed attempt by the federal government to rein in junk food marketing to children, and why it’s time to set a new and much bolder course to fix this problem.

San Francisco Chronicle – Bay Area breast cancer clusters seen
Breast cancer clusters in California may not be limited to Marin County.
New research released Tuesday identified four areas of the state that have rates of the disease 10 to 20 percent higher than the state average.
Relying on U.S. census tracts rather than county-level data, researchers for the Public Health Institute‘s California Breast Cancer Mapping Project in Oakland were able to identify northern and southern Bay Area counties as “areas of concern.” The two other areas were located in Southern California.

Huffington Post – The fiscal cliff and health: A scary combination
New trending topic: the fiscal cliff. Washington loves its metaphors and the fiscal cliff is no exception. Unless Congress and the administration reach a new compromise, come Jan. 2, 2013, discretionary spending, or what most people really consider “government” — education, transportation and health— will be slashed by 8.2 percent.
This has dire consequences for the nation’s economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the economy will shrink and unemployment will rise.

SCOTUS blog – New look at health care? (UPDATED)
The Supreme Court opened its new Term on Monday by asking the federal government to offer its views on whether the way should be cleared for new constitutional challenges to the federal health care law — including a new protest against the individual mandate that the Court had upheld last June.

New York Times – Hospitals face pressure to avert readmissions
After years of gently prodding hospitals to make sure discharged patients do not need to return, the federal government is now using its financial muscle to discourage readmissions.
Medicare last month began levying financial penalties against 2,217 hospitals it says have had too many readmissions. Of those hospitals, 307 will receive the maximum punishment, a 1 percent reduction in Medicare’s regular payments for every patient over the next year, federal records show.