Robot Bartender Serves Up Drinks in Japanese Pub

Tim Kelly and Akira Tomoshige wrote . . . . . . . . .

Japan’s first robot bartender has begun serving up drinks in a Tokyo pub in a test that could usher in a wave of automation in restaurants and shops struggling to hire staff in an aging society.

The repurposed industrial robot serves drinks in is own corner of a Japanese pub operated by restaurant chain Yoronotaki. An attached tablet computer face smiles as it chats about the weather while preparing orders.

The robot, made by the company QBIT Robotics, can pour a beer in 40 seconds and mix a cocktail in a minute. It uses four cameras to monitors customers to analyze their expressions with artificial intelligence (AI) software.

“I like it because dealing with people can be a hassle. With this you can just come and get drunk,” Satoshi Harada, a restaurant worker said after ordering a drink.

“If they could make it a little quicker it would be even better.”

Finding workers, especially in Japan’s service sector, is set to get even more difficult.

The government has eased visa restrictions to attract more foreign workers but companies still face a labor shortage as the population shrinks and the number of people over 65 increases to more than a third of the total.

Service companies that can’t relocate overseas or take advantage of automation are more vulnerable than industrial firms. In health care alone, Japan expects a shortfall of 380,000 workers by 2025.

Japan wants to use the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games beginning on July 27 to showcase service robot technology, with organizers planning to use robots built by Toyota Motor and Panasonic Corp to help visitors, workers and athletes.

The robot bartender trial at the pub, which employs about 30 people, will last two months after which Yoronotaki will assess the results.

“We hope it’s a solution,” Yoshio Momiya, a Yoronotaki manager, said as the robot bartender served drinks behind him.

“There are still a number of issues to work through, such as finding enough space for it, but we hope it will be something we can use.”

At about 9 million yen (US$82,000), the robot cost as much as employing a human bartender for three years.

Source : Reuters

Salmon Fishcakes with Seaweed and Sesame Seed Crust


500 g cooked fresh salmon or hot-smoked salmon
1/2 fish stock cube or 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (nom pla)
350 g cooked mashed potatoes (plain, with no butter or milk)
3 sheets nori seaweed, chopped or crumbled
1 teaspoon kalonji (black onion or nigella seeds) (optional)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
50 g sesame seeds
50 g dried breadcrumbs
plain flour, for dusting
2 eggs, beaten
peanut or sunflower oil, for deep-frying soy sauce and chili sauce, for dipping


  1. Remove any skin from the salmon and flake the flesh with a fork.
  2. Crumble the stock cube into the potatoes or add the fish sauce, then beat until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Mix in the seaweed, kalonji (if using) and sesame oil, then fold in the salmon.
  4. Shape the mixture into 8-12 patties, flattening them slightly.
  5. Mix the sesame seeds and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Dip each fishcake in flour, then beaten egg, then the sesame crumbs. The fishcakes can now be frozen to cook at a later date.
  6. When ready to cook, heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C (350°F). Fry the fishcakes for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden, then drain well on kitchen paper.
  7. Serve with a little soy sauce or chilli sauce for dipping.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Salmon

U.S. Supermarket Puts ‘Food as Medicine’ to the Test

Russell Redman wrote . . . . . . . . .

The Kroger Co. is piloting a program in which physicians can write “food prescriptions” that patients fill at a local store under the guidance of a Kroger Health professional.

Under the test, launched in the spring and now in its next phase, a Cincinnati doctor makes dietary recommendations to diabetes patients and directs them to a nutrition expert at a Kroger supermarket in Forest Park, Ohio, said Kroger Health registered dietitian Bridget Wojciak, RDN/LD. At the store, a dietitian provides personal nutrition counseling and food suggestions to help the patient better manage the disease, in line with the doctor’s orders.

“Right now, we’re in pilot with a local Cincinnati physician offering holistic care for patients with diabetes. As part of that program, it includes a nutrition prescription, which is fulfilled at a Kroger store,” Wojciak said. “Upon successful completion of this pilot, we have plans for rapid expansion, with a vision of filling more nutrition prescriptions than we do prescription for medication.”

Bridget Wojciak-Kroger Health dietitian.jpgBridget Wojciak, a Kroger Health registered dietitian. (Photo courtesy of Kroger)

The food prescription is written, not electronic as with medications, according to Wojciak. Essentially, the script serves as a referral to a Kroger Health dietitian, who then performs an evaluation, which she described as a “total review.”

“It includes learning how to use the OptUP app, a personalized nutrition assessment and understanding patient lifestyle concerns around nutrition,” Wojciak explained. “Then that dietitian provides personalized food recommendations that can be fulfilled by nutrition team member in-store.”

Kroger’s free OptUP mobile app, rolled out in 2018, provides customer’s with a score indicating a product’s nutritional and/or health attributes based on nationally recognized dietary guidelines enhanced by Kroger Health dietitians.

Wojciak noted that the food prescription concept arose from the need to ensure the primary care team has input into patients’ diets and the nutritional guidance they receive is clear and easy to follow.

“When we say ‘food is medicine,’ we want to make clear that it very much still involves the holistic health care team and it still involves primary care,” she said. “We find that a lot of physicians give difficult-to-follow nutrition advice — along the lines of ‘You should improve your diet’ or ‘You should eat better.’ And that becomes very difficult for a patient to understand and implement. So a nutrition prescription is the strategic way to fill the gap between the physician’s guidance and the actual products that will yield health benefits.”

Recommendations are made for specific food items and customized to the patient’s medical condition and additional information collected during the visit with the dietitian. Those receiving the prescriptions are just handed a shopping list, Wojciak pointed out.

“It’s much more comprehensive than that. Most people, even when given a list of foods, don’t necessarily know how to make them, what to do with them, how to store them and how to make it fit into their lifestyle to actually generate the behavior change needed to improve their health. So that’s why we incorporated a dietitian into the workflow,” she explained. “When you work with a registered dietitian with a nutrition prescription, it gives you personalized advice, not only based on your health condition but also on your lifestyle, the number of people in your household, your budget, how comfortable you are with cooking — any factor that would contribute to the way that you eat.”

Going forward, Kroger Health expects to extend the food prescriptions to other health conditions and diseases states at more stores, based on the results of the pilot.

“The vision is that it’s not limited to primary care. Any physician can make a referral to a nutrition prescription at the expansion of the program,” said Wojciak.

Other health conditions that could be addressed by the program include heart disease and cancer. Kroger Health also envisions including pharmacists, nurse practitioners and other health professionals.

“Food just as important in preventing disease as it is in treating it. In the pilot, we’re focusing on those with diabetes, but ‘food is medicine’ can be applied to anyone no matter where they are in their health and wellness journey,” Wojciak said. “Any medical condition could benefit from changes in diet and nutrition. But we encourage people to think of it more broadly and, in the future, also on the preventative side as well as the treatment side.”

Source: Supermarket News

Gene Variation May Protect Against Alzheimer’s: Study

A breakthrough study has identified a class of natural gene variants that may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

For the study, researchers at University College London analyzed DNA from more than 10,000 people — half with Alzheimer’s and half without. The investigators found that these gene variants reduce the functioning of proteins called tyrosine phosphatases.

These proteins impair the activity of a cell signaling pathway important for cell survival, explained the authors of the study published online Feb. 5 in the Annals of Human Genetics.

The pathway could be a key target for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s, and the study authors said that the findings provide more evidence that other genes may be linked to one’s risk for the memory disorder.

“These results are quite encouraging. It looks as though when naturally occurring genetic variants reduce the activity of tyrosine phosphatases, then this makes Alzheimer’s disease less likely to develop, suggesting that drugs which have the same effect might also be protective,” lead author David Curtis said in a college news release. He’s a professor of genetics, evolution and environment.

Previous research in mice and rats suggested that inhibiting the function of these proteins might help protect against Alzheimer’s, but this study is the first to find such an effect in people.

There are already drugs that target tyrosine phosphatases, but they haven’t been tested in human clinical trials, Curtis noted.

“Here’s a natural experiment in people that helps us understand how Alzheimer’s disease develops: as some people have these genetic variants and some don’t, we can see that the impact of having particular variants is a reduced likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

Evidence also suggests that genetic variants that damage the gene for the PI3K protein are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

“There is a consistent story in our results that the activity of the … signaling pathway is protective, which is exactly in line with findings from animal studies,” Curtis said.

Source: HealthDay

Don’t Double Up on Acetaminophen

You have flu symptoms, so you’ve been getting some relief for the past two days by taking a cough and flu medicine every few hours. Late in the day, you have a headache and you think about grabbing a couple of acetaminophen tablets to treat the pain.

Stop right there.

What you may not realize is that more than 600 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), contain the active ingredient acetaminophen to help relieve pain and reduce fever. Taken carefully and correctly, these medicines can be safe and effective. But taking too much acetaminophen can lead to severe liver damage.

Acetaminophen is a common medication for relieving mild to moderate pain from headaches, muscle aches, menstrual periods, colds and sore throats, toothaches, backaches and to reduce fever. It is also used in combination medicines, which have more than one active ingredient to treat more than one symptom.

‘Tis Cold and Flu Season

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that Americans catch one billion colds per year and as many as 20% of Americans get the flu. Moreover, 7 in 10 Americans use OTC medicines to treat cold, cough and flu symptoms.

Fathia Gibril, M.D., M.HSc., a supervisory medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), explains that consumers looking for relief from a cold or the flu may not know that acetaminophen comes in combination with many other medications used to treat those symptoms. “So if you’re taking more than one medicine at a time,” she says, “you may be putting yourself at risk for liver damage.”

Symptoms of acetaminophen overdose may take many days to appear, and even when they become apparent, they may mimic flu or cold symptoms. The current maximum recommended adult dose of acetaminophen is 4,000 milligrams per day, To avoid exceeding that dose:

  • don’t take more than one OTC product containing acetaminophen,
  • don’t take a prescription and an OTC product containing acetaminophen, and
  • don’t exceed the recommended dose on any product containing acetaminophen.

“When you’re at the store deciding which product to buy, check the ‘Drug Facts’ label of OTC cold, cough and flu products before using two or more products at the same time,” Gibril says. If you’re still not sure which to buy, ask the pharmacist for advice.

Rely on Health Care Experts

Acetaminophen is used in many commonly prescribed medications in combination with pain relievers such as codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone. As of January 2011, FDA reported that overdoses from prescription medicines containing acetaminophen accounted for nearly half of all cases of acetaminophen-related liver injury in the U.S. When your health care professionals prescribe a drug, be sure to ask if it contains this active ingredient, and also to inform them of all other medicines (prescription and OTC) and supplements you take.

Even if you still have fever or pain, it’s important not to take more than directed on the prescription or package label, notes FDA supervisory medical officer Sharon Hertz, M.D. But be careful, the word “acetaminophen” is not always spelled out in full on the container’s prescription label. Abbreviations such as APAP, Acetaminoph, Acetaminop, Acetamin, or Acetam may be used instead.

When buying OTC products, Hertz suggests you make it a habit of telling the pharmacist what other medications and supplements you’re taking and asking if taking acetaminophen in addition is safe.

When the medicine is intended for children, the “Directions” section of the Drug Facts label tells you if the medicine is right for your child and how much to give. If a dose for your child’s weight or age is not listed on the label and you can’t tell how much to give, ask your pharmacist or doctor what to do.

If you’re planning to use a medication containing acetaminophen, you should tell your health care professional if you have or have ever have had liver disease.

Acetaminophen and alcohol may not be a good mix, either, Hertz says. If you drink three or more alcoholic drinks a day, be sure to talk to your health care professional before you use a medicine containing acetaminophen.

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

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