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Food additive in fried foods, frozen meat weakens immune system, worsens flu

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A common food additive found in many products, including frozen meat, crackers and fried foods, could weaken the human immune system against flu, which accounts for 290,000-650,000 deaths globally every year, say researchers.

Besides increasing the severity of flu symptoms, the study found exposure to the compound — tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) — could reduce effectiveness of flu vaccine through its effects on T cells, a vital component of the immune system.

During the study, mice fed tBHQ-spiked diet were slower to activate both helper T cells and killer T cells, causing slower clearance of the virus.
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“Our studies showed mice on a tBHQ diet had a weakened immune response to influenza (flu) infection,” said Robert Freeborn, postdoctoral candidate at the Michigan State University.

“In our mouse model, tBHQ suppressed function of helper and killer T cells. It led to more severe symptoms during a subsequent influenza infection,” Freeborn said.

When the mice were re-infected with a different but related strain of influenza, those on the tBHQ diet had a longer illness and lost more weight. This suggests that tBHQ impaired the “memory response” that typically primes the immune system to fight a second infection, Freeborn said.

tBHQ is an additive used to prevent spoilage, with a maximum allowed concentration of 200 parts per million in food products.
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Since tBHQ is not always listed on ingredient labels, the best way to limit tBHQ exposure is to be conscious about food choices. A low-fat diet and less consumption of processed snacks will help reduce tBHQ consumption, he suggested.

Annual flu shot significantly reduces the length and severity of the illness and prevents influenza infection.

The study will be presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in Orlando.

Automobile

Kia Motors will invest over ₹400 crores in Andhra Pradesh plant.

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In a move that will decidedly boost the ‘Make in India’ movement further, Kia Motors has announced that it will invest $54 million, about ₹410 crores, in its manufacturing facility in Andhra Pradesh. The investment, announced during day four of the state’s ‘Mana Palana Mee Suchana’ programme, will be used for the expansion of the South Korean carmaker’s factory in Ananthapuram, Andhra Pradesh. The company noted that with this fresh round of investment in the facility, Kia Motors India will firmly establish itself as a guide for other foreign companies that intend to invest in Andhra Pradesh.

Kookhyun Shim, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Kia Motors India, said, “Kia was a big success in the Indian car market within 10 months of starting production. We are happy to share with you that we are going to make an additional investment of $54 million in the upcoming project despite the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

Shim added that among the total employment opportunities generated by Kia Motors India and its vendors, 85 per cent of them are Andhra Pradesh natives. This, he explained, has driven AP Chief Minister’s goal to create more employment opportunities by the means of investments.

This is, of course, not the company’s first investment in India — Kia has already invested roughly $1.1 billion, i.e. more than ₹8,140 crore, in its plant in Anantapur. This plant currently has a production capacity of 3 lakh units per annum. The capacity is expected to go up by about 1.5 lakh units with the new investment.

To some, the announcement may seem a tad surprising owing to the current financial climate across the globe. But it makes sense when you really think about it; the company has had a productive run in India so far. It started its innings here with the Kia Seltos and it didn’t take too long for the compact SUV to become a massive hit in the market and give the Hyundai Creta a run for its money. Then came the luxurious Carnival MPV. The next Kia car in India will be the Sonet sub-compact SUV; expected to be launched in India by September 2020, the Kia Sonet SUV will compete against cars such as the Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport, and Mahindra XUV300.

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