Today in Globe Business
Three egg producers in Maine that supply many New England grocery stores are under scrutiny by congressional investigators because of their ties to Austin “Jack’’ DeCoster, whose Iowa farm was at the center of the recent egg recall.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has requested that DeCoster turn over inspection records and documents related to any allegations of egg contamination, or violations of health, safety, environmental, or animal cruelty laws at Dorothy Egg Farms, Mountain Hollow Farms, and Quality Egg of New England. Together, the three Maine farms provide about 100 million cartons of eggs a year to grocery stores throughout the region.
“The companies appear to be linked to DeCoster, but we don’t know what role, if any, they played in the recall,’’ said Karen Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for the congressional panel. This summer more than 1,500 people were sickened by eggs suspected of being contaminated by salmonella, prompting a major recall by two farms in Iowa. No illnesses were reported in New England.
A coalition of community hospitals that compete with Caritas Christi Health Care across eastern Massachusetts is appealing to the state attorney general’s office to impose strict rules on the proposed sale of the nonprofit chain to a New York private equity firm.
Among the conditions being sought by the Healthcare Access Coalition are measures to prohibit the buyer, Cerberus Capital Management, from using “improper’’ incentives to recruit doctors from rival hospitals, a three-year ban on price increases for hospital services, and restrictions on “limited network’’ insurance contracts that exclude other providers. The community hospitals also want Cerberus to commit to not selling Caritas for seven years instead of three.
Members of the coalition, made up of Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, and Southcoast Hospitals Group in New Bedford, said the restrictions are needed to keep them viable and ensure that low-income patients have access to health care services at reasonable prices.
Apple Inc. began pouring music into our pockets in 2001. Nine years and 275 million iPods later, the company keeps inventing good excuses for buying the latest versions of the portable devices.
The iconic little music players get a face lift every autumn, with just enough technical and cosmetic improvements to send the fans scurrying to the nearest Apple store. Don’t expect me to discourage them. I like to think I’m a tough grader, but after a few days with the three latest iPods, I’ve gone all squishy.
The cheapest iPod, the Shuffle, was a good deal when it was $59, and it’s better now at $49. It’s got two gigabytes of memory on board, plenty for listening to tunes on the subway. Gone is the control system mounted on the Shuffle’s headphone cable. There’s now a clickwheel right on its 1-inch-square face. That leaves no room for a video display, but then Shuffles have never had those. Instead, there’s a pushbutton on the upper edge that activates VoiceOver, a smart feature that reads album and podcast titles out loud, guiding you to the right recordings.
The Boston City Council cleared the way yesterday for vendors at Logan International Airport to be granted special liquor licenses, potentially freeing up 13 sought-after liquor licenses being used at the airport to establishments throughout the city.
Currently 40 vendors at the airport, including restaurants and airline clubs, share 13 regular liquor licenses. If the special license rule goes through, each Logan vendor would have to purchase a new airport license — $2,500 for an all-inclusive license, $1,000 for beer and wine only — and the city licenses would be sold to Boston establishments outside the airport.
The proposal will go to the state Legislature and the governor for approval.
A Cambridge biotechnology company has developed a gene therapy that successfully treated a 21-year-old French man who suffers from an inherited blood disorder called beta thalassemia, allowing him to forgo monthly transfusions that he has depended on since childhood.
The case, reported yesterday in the journal Nature, is the latest example of progress in the field of gene therapy. Bluebird Bio, the company developing the therapy, plans to recruit nine additional patients for its clinical trial, which will include patients with beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
“Now, the patient has been without any transfusions for two years. . . . I must say we want to be cautious — nevertheless, at this point it’s good to see the patient lives a normal life for the first time, has a full-time job in a restaurant in Paris as a cook,’’ said Dr. Philippe Leboulch, a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School and a professor of medicine at the University of Paris, who is the senior author of the study.