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Children Shocked in Pool; Huge Beef Recall; Petsmart and Petco Pull China-Made Treats

Aired May 22, 2014 - 08:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Mic, let's make it the six things you need to know for your new day, because we have an important warning for you, especially with the holiday weekend coming up.

Many people believe the biggest danger in a pool is that their kid is going to drown. And, you know what, you're right. But there's a close second, it's electrocution. And we have some terrifying video to show you out of the Miami area. This just happened. Kids -- what you're watching right now is there's someone being shocked. That child is being shocked that seems limp there right now. They become electrified because of what was going on in the water from a pool pump. Parents struggle to pull them out. And, you know, luckily everybody survived. But it was a very dangerous situation. That kid could have drown very easily.

So, how does this happen? We're lucky to have Dr. Sanjay Gupta with us this morning.

Let's go through this and what the factors are, the risk factors, what you can do about it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let me - let me explain -- I'm going to explain what probably happened to this specific pool. But you take a look at this video. Everyone's sitting there fine. Right here is a crucial point. The girl touched the handrail. I'm going to explain why that's important in a second.

You see the father, whoever this man is, jump back for a second, then get her out. And then you see a girl there. As you point out, Chris, everybody is OK at the end of this. The grandfather here comes over, gets her out as well at this point. He may have gotten a little bit of an electrical charge himself. There he falls backwards.

There's a couple of important points here. The water is -- was likely electrified. We know that. Kids are swimming just fine. But at the time this girl touches the handrail, essentially she becomes the ground. We think of electricity, we think of it going to ground. She now becomes the ground. It's flowing through her body into that handrail. And that's why she becomes limp like that.

He touches the handrail for a second, same sort of thing happens. The water was electrified, as we learned later on, because there were some wires that hadn't been inspected properly that were actually releasing some of the electricity into the water as opposed to into the ground. And that's exactly the sort of problem.

CUOMO: Pool pump in this instance. We hear it most often with lights because they're defectively done. But the big issue becomes what the age of the pool is, right?

GUPTA: Yes. So, you know, for pragmatic purposes, before 1984, there weren't a lot of regulations in terms of the amount of electricity that could be in some of those devices, the pumps, the lights, the filters, things like that. After 1984, they become more strict about that. But, you're right, that could be a problem. You could have higher doses of electricity in those earlier things.

But also, you know, home pools, private pools, they're -- who inspects these things?

CUOMO: That's right.

GUPTA: Who's actually looking at the wires? That's your responsibility. And I bet you very few people do that. It's a good time to remember that with Memorial Day weekend, but that's a very crucial point.

CUOMO: As you're opening your pool, if you're lucky enough to have one.

So what do you do if, God forbid, this happens and the water's electrified and you don't know and then somebody touches something metal and you don't have fiberglass rails in your pool, what do you do?

GUPTA: Yes. So, and, again, there's not a regulation on this, but good advice is to have some non-conductive tool to be able to get people out of the pool. You mentioned fiberglass. Fiberglass is a good - good example. It's non-conductive. You have a hook. A lot of public pools have this. You actually put the hook in. Somebody can grab it or you can grab them, pull them out of the pool. You touch the handrail yourself, you touch the water, you, yourself now could become a patient or a victim as opposed to a rescuer.

CUOMO: And you get to see, as you watch this video loop around, two very brave daddies, granddaddies involved in this.


CUOMO: You'll see the second one comes here. The first one who got shocked the first time, he's still pulling kids out -

GUPTA: Right.

CUOMO: And still dealing with the danger, obviously.

GUPTA: And, again, the pool was -- this didn't happen right at that moment. The pool had probably been electrified for some point. This was a preventable problem. It was when that crucial moment right there, when the girl touching - you immediately see her go back. She becomes the ground for that electricity in the pool to flow through her body. It can affect the heart. It can affect your nervous system. You can see what happened there.

CUOMO: Oh, sure, it could kill you for sure certainly because it's going to destabilize you when you're in water and you could, obviously, take in the water and drown. But the - I wonder, I'm going to check into this, because this is coming to us fresh here. I wonder if they sell anything that you can put into the pool and test to see if there's any current in the pool.

GUPTA: Now that's interesting.

CUOMO: We'll check because, obviously, that's an easier way to learn than this way.

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. And let's point out, the water itself is not what's conducting the electricity. It's the ions in the water. So a lot of salt, for example, the chemicals that go into the water, those types of things obviously have to be tested. Pure water would be less conductive than, you know, water that had a lot of ions in it, but that's something that you could probably look for as well.

CUOMO: Yes, I will. Doc, thank you very much. The danger here, obvious, but detecting it beforehand and what to do if you're in this situation, obviously bears as much advice as we can take, especially as we head into the holiday weekend and pool season.

GUPTA: Yes. They're all fine. Again, they - as scary as that was.

CUOMO: They also have one other recommendation that they're telling me now - right now. A ground fault circuit interrupter, which must be something that allows for a short to not be distributed throughout the water.

GUPTA: It detects that the electricity is now going to ground somewhere else and it basically turns it off. GFCI. A lot of bathrooms have them, for example, now. So you see that. It's a pretty good mechanism to try and prevent that sort of thing.

CUOMO: The Consumer Protection Safety Commission said this is a good thing for every pool to have. You don't know if you have it or not. You're going to have to check your pool or ask whoever's taking care of your pool to see if it's there. It's worth having it.

GUPTA: You know, I didn't know, Chris, that the electrocutions had risen that high, just behind drowning still. But, again, these are totally preventable problems.

CUOMO: Yes. And now we know the different devices you can have and different ways to go after it, because we all know the risk if it goes the wrong way.

Doctor, thank you, as always.

GUPTA: You got it.

CUOMO: Have a very good weekend this weekend. I know you're going to be remembering the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Kate, over to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the beef recall now a major concern spreading coast to coast. So, why won't the government reveal which restaurants sold the beef? We are live outside the factory where the tainted beef was traced to and a lot of questions.

Also ahead, two major pet retailers pulling treats made in China off of their shelves. Could those treats be making pets sick? We're going to speak with a top official from Petco about what you need to know this morning.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

The enormous beef recall that we've been following has expanded nationwide this morning. And 1.8 million pounds of ground beef being removed from shelves because it could be contaminated with potentially deadly E. Coli, and some of it may be in your fridge. Food inspectors are naming the stores that may have received the tainted meat, but they're not naming the restaurants that could have also gotten that beef and may have even sold it. Chris Frates is at Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, the company behind the recall.

Chris, what is the very latest from where you are?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Kate, this is probably the last thing you want to hear going into the Memorial Day weekend cookouts.


FRATES (voice-over): The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a list of stores in nine states that may have received shipments of the beef contaminated with E. Coli. E. Coli bacteria produces a toxin that causes terrible abdominal pain, kidney damage and, in some cases, even death. None of the 11 people sickened by this latest outbreak died, officials say. Investigators traced the bad meat back to Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit. Ten out of the 11 people who got sick ate at a restaurant supplied by Wolverine. But federal officials are not naming the restaurants. And this consumer watchdog thinks that's got to change.

TONY CORBO, FOOD & WATER WATCH: This is going to make things a little more dicey in terms of consumers who may get sick and don't know what to do or are not following this issue closely enough to make the connection between their illness and where they eat.

FRATES: But a top-ranking USDA official said it's against regulations to disclose restaurant names.

DAVID GOLDMAN, ASST. ADMINISTRATOR, OFFICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCE: People who were exposed have already been exposed. So it doesn't help the public to tell them now that a certain restaurant was associated with these illnesses. Our job really is to identify product that may still be available.

FRATES: Goldman said federal officials disclose the names of grocery stores and other retailers because customers could still have meat they bought sitting in their freezers. Restaurants, on the other hand, aren't going to serve tainted burgers once the meat is recalled. For its part, the meat packing plant said in a statement it's working with the USDA and, quote, "we encourage anyone who has concern to be sure to cook all ground beef to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit."


FRATES: And while that can be tough advice for grill masters who love their burgers medium rare to follow, it's really the only way to make sure your burgers are safe.


BOLDUAN: Chris, thank you so much.

Sanjay Gupta is still here.

I mean, Sanjay, this is, as Chris mentioned, this is tough to hear heading into the big barbecuing holiday, of course. But, in general, what is the best advice? You're at a big family gathering. Maybe a lot of people coming over. Not even just beef, but just to avoid and protect your family from E. Coli infections.

GUPTA: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And it's very preventable. One thing I always point out to people is that with E. Coli, it just takes about 100 cells to get somebody sick. You could put that on a pin.

BOLDUAN: So just very little.

GUPTA: You know, just a small amount. And it doubles every 15 minutes. You get a billion cells there, if your - if this ground beef is sitting out for a few hours. So that, you know, you've got to make sure it's refrigerated. You've got to make sure you're not cross contaminating. Your hands can spread it very easily. So, you know, the basics really do apply here. And you can do it safely, I think, if you follow these rules. This particular lot, you've got to find out what that beef was that was recalled and throw that away.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Do it safely. It makes it sound like you need to do it in like laboratory conditions.


CUOMO: Is it worth the risk? I mean how many people actually cook their burger all the way through, do everything the way they're supposed to? It sounds like we're just setting ourselves up for problems.

GUPTA: Very few people do. And very few people use a meat thermometer. Most people just sort of eyeball it.


GUPTA: And most people are still OK. So, but, you know, if you're trying to guarantee safety or maximize the likelihood of safety, 160 degrees. But I think the fact that it's so low amount with E. Coli, just 100 cells can get you sick. Oftentimes you need a lot of an exposure to the bacteria to actually get the illness. Not so with E. Coli. So you've really got to just make sure you're watching your hands and not becoming the vector yourself.

BOLDUAN: Just be diligent.

GUPTA: Yes, be diligent. Or you don't have to eat ground beef. I don't eat a lot of ground beef.

BOLDUAN: There's your option as well.


CUOMO: That's why he's so ripped up. The Sanjay Gupta diet. You need to (ph) Band-Aid? Why do you need a Band-Aid, doc?

BOLDUAN: So everyone should take (ph) it.

GUPTA: Because I'm so cut.

CUOMO: Because you're so cut.

BOLDUAN: I mean --

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY -

BOLDUAN: I mean -

CUOMO: Two major pet retailers pull out --

BOLDUAN: What? I can't even focus right now.

GUPTA: Pet treats.

CUOMO: The made in China - this is important, pet treats.

BOLDUAN: Really? Because all I'm thinking is about Sanjay Gupta and Band-Aids.

CUOMO: Well, change - time to change your mind.

GUPTA: What an image. (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Listen, listen -


CUOMO: The truth is what it is. The guy's ripped up. That's just how it is. So, here's something else that's just the truth. We have to pay attention to what's going on with these pet treats because they're being pulled off shelves. They may be literally killing little doggies out there. People have been complaining about the treats for years. So the question is, why now? Why are they pulling it now? We have an official from Petco here to answer the questions. We'll get it for you.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Two major national pet stores are pulling all dog and cat treats made in China off their shelves. This decision comes after years of complaints made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that these jerky treats from China were possibly making our pets sick and are even linked to around a thousand dog deaths. The FDA is looking into the possible connection. But for now, these two stores are taking matters into their own hands.

Joining us now John Sturm; he's the vice president of merchandising food and treats for PetCo. Mr. Sturm joins us from San Diego. Thank you so much for getting up awfully early.

So here we hear there's been a seven-year investigation. The FDA hasn't found a link, but PetCo and another company, you're deciding to pull these treats made from China off your shelves. Why is that?

JOHN STURM, PETCO: Good morning, Michaela. Thank you for having me today. It was a tough decision. We've been watching this FDA investigation for the full seven years, and each year our customers are telling us more and more that they're nervous about these consumable products for dogs and cats that come out of China.

Finally, we didn't want to wait for hard evidence to emerge or we didn't want to wait for facts to emerge. We just decided this was the right thing to do for pets and for pet parents. We were really the first to announce this and we'll be the first to get this done.

By the end of the year, we'll no longer be carrying any dog or cat treats or raw hide made in China. We're really proud to announce that.

PEREIRA: Mr. Sturm, there are going to be pet owners that are going to say a couple points here. Why wait this long? We've been complaining about it for some time. There have been concerns about these treats. Why wait until now?

STURM: It's a great question. We've been getting that question quite a bit. I can tell you we're watching the FDA investigation really closely. The fact is, currently there is no link to these deaths or illnesses to the chicken jerky and the FDA has been investigating this. And they found nothing.

So we, you know, don't think there's imminent risk here. The FDA has not mandated a recall. But we think it's the right thing to do just based on the fear and concern that's in the marketplace. So you know, it's been a transition for us. We've been working actively to find new sources of supply right here in the United States. And we're really pleased that we have established those relationships.

We've also encouraged our existing brands to move their production from China to the United States so we can now replenish our shelves with made in the USA product.

PEREIRA: You and I both know, though, that the FDA -- look, it's a government organization there can be bureaucracy, these things can take time. And people are going to wonder. Would you have fed -- do you feed your pet these treats?

STURM: You know, it's a personal decision with your pet as I'm sure everybody knows. My pet doesn't like jerky. My pet likes biscuits. So I feed natural biscuits to my pet.

PEREIRA: All right. So then the next question is why wait until the end of the year to make sure that all these treats are off the shelves? Why not just pull them now?

STURM: We've been working on this for several years. It really came down to the sources of supply and finding the U.S. manufacturers that can convert to all made in the USA jerky and as well as raw hide. It's just taken us a little time to get there.

But we're really proud to be the first national pet specialty retailer to make this change and we think that pet parents are really going to be pleased with our decision.

PEREIRA: Don't you think pet parents would be OK with not having any pet treats in the meantime rather than having ones that they feel are suspect?

STURM: It's a great question. I can tell you the history on that. Five years ago over 90 percent of chicken jerky came from China, literally the entire pet chicken jerky industry was manufactured in China. For several years we've been working to change that. And I'm really proud to say currently we've changed that 90 percent to 50 percent. So now half of our treats are sold, jerky treats are sold from China. The other half are domestic. By the end of the year it will be zero percent. All of our chicken jerky, all of our rawhide, all of our dog and cat treats will come from either the U.S. or other parts of the world that we think are safe.

PEREIRA: Well, it certainly is the direction you're going in, and we encourage you to make that happen quickly because I know a lot of pet parents -- I like the way you say that -- are concerned.

Another thing they're concerned about, I know you can't see this at home but you have these in your stores. You've got a lot of the toys that pets have. And if you have a dog, you know that these things don't stand a chance. They end up eating half of these toys, chewing them apart because they're their favorite thing to play with. A lot of items, sir, are made in China, too. That's a concern as well. What's going to be done about these products? STURM: You know, we listen to our customers very closely. To be candid with you, we haven't gotten much concern about toys. I can tell you that we've been focused on the FDA investigation, and we've been focused on consumable products that come from China because that seems to be where the fear and the concern lies. To date we haven't had any problems with toys from China or other products from China. It's really been these consumable products like treats and raw hide.

PEREIRA: Well back to the treats that you were talking about. The FDA did warn that the manufacturers don't need to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in the product. There could be ingredients in the pet food that comes from China. So that is a concern. How do you get around that and how do you prepare yourselves for the questions you get from customers?

STURM: First of all, none of our dog or cat food is manufactured in China.

PEREIRA: I meant treats. Pardon me.

STURM: Well, ingredients is a good question. I can tell you that in some products there may be trace vitamins or trace minerals that are manufactured in China. I'll give you an example of that. Taurine is something that's vital to the nutrition of a cat. Most of the world's supply of taurine comes from China. If the pet manufacturers didn't use taurine that was made in China, there wouldn't be enough cat food to feed the cats.

But the good news is some of those ingredients, the vitamins and the minerals, there have been no reported issues and we don't think there's any concerns with that.

PEREIRA: John Sturm, thanks for taking time to answer some of these questions for us. We know that all of us care -- if you have a pet at home, they're part of the family, want to take care of them -- dog, cat, fish, goldfish, whatever. Thank you so much for coming on NEW DAY to talk about this with us.

STURM: Thanks, Michaela. I really appreciate it.

PEREIRA: All right. Kate, Chris, hopefully they'll get those products that are of concern out of the stores by the end of the year.

CUOMO: It's been going on for a long time.

BOLDUAN: A long time.

CUOMO: Something is killing the pets. So, you know, they've got to figure it out.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Coming up next on NEW DAY, a little boy born without arms gets a high-tech solution and the old school community effort that helped pay for it. It is "The Good Stuff".

That's coming up.


CUOMO: "Sweet Disposition" great song from the Temper Trap, perfect for "The Good Stuff".

In today's edition two-year-old Jameson Davis from Spokane is more than just a toddler. This kid is bionic. For reasons doctors can't figure out Jameson was born without arms. That hasn't slowed him down one bit. He just became the youngest person ever to be fitted with myo-electric arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of a kind design, one of a kind technology just for our son and in the simplest terms, flexing his bicep and it will open and close the hand.


CUOMO: He flexes his bicep and can use his hand -- amazing. Amazing technology -- that means, you know, not cheap. We're talking like $100,000 here and the shocker, insurance wouldn't cover it all.

But listen to this. That's when the community of Spokane stepped up. Guess what they did? They covered the rest.


JIM DAVIS, FATHER OF JAMESON: Just to know that there's great people in Spokane, and they're willing to help a stranger, so to speak.


CUOMO: Jameson's life is getting better. He has a sibling coming on the way and he's got just one thing to say to the people in his community.




CUOMO: Look at those eyes, look at that hair. Look at those arms.

PEREIRA: Imagine how good he's going to be, you know, if you grow up with those arms, he's going to be doing all sorts of those things.

BOLDUAN: He's already moving around with amazing agility.

CUOMO: Right. Just to know that you grew up in a community where people care that much -- this was not cheap.

PEREIRA: Not strangers anymore.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No small price tag, worth every penny.

CUOMO: Right. Well said. A lot of news this morning. Let's get you over to the "NEWSROOM" and Ms. Carol Costello -- bionic in her own way.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'll take that. Thank you, Chris Cuomo. Have a great day, guys. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", a decade in captivity now free.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tells her that her mother doesn't care, that she can't go to the police because they're going to deport her.


CUOMO: Kidnapped, held hostage, now reunited with her family, thanks to Facebook.