Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said Tuesday that he has taken a closer look at the FDA food program and concluded that "fundamental questions about the structure, function, funding and leadership need to be addressed." The statement comes as criticism of the agency, spurred by the recent shortage of infant formula, has mounted.
A crash program to streamline U.S. imports of infant formula has worked so well, the FDA will make it permanent, said agency leaders on Wednesday. The program, which began in May when domestic supplies ran low, has resulted in shipments from nine countries of enough formula to fill 400 million 8-ounce bottles.
Companies from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran would be barred from purchasing U.S. agricultural land under language approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
While Republicans objected to the cost of public nutrition programs such as SNAP, the leader of the House Appropriations Committee said on Wednesday that “we will be doing something about extending the waivers of the school meals programs.” The waivers, a response to the pandemic that allows free meals for all public school students, are due to expire on June 30.
U.S. infant formula makers are revving up production and the door is open to imported formula, so “we should see improvement in a matter of days” from shortages nationwide, FDA commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday on Capitol Hill. Califf also said he would strengthen food safety procedures at the agency, though key lawmakers argued he was not going far enough.
President Biden invoked his executive powers on Wednesday to give infant formula manufacturers first call on ingredients, and announced Operation Fly Formula, which would carry formula from overseas suppliers to the United States. Both steps were aimed at alleviating shortages that followed the shutdown of a large formula plant in Michigan, where FDA inspectors found bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
House Democratic leaders unveiled a pair of bills on Tuesday to ease infant formula shortages and beef up the FDA office in charge of assuring the products are safe for babies. "People are selling samples on the street. Mothers are watering down formula. Quite frankly, they're desperate," said Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, sponsor of one of the bills.
Abbott Nutrition would hire an outside expert and implement a sanitation plan at its infant formula plant in Michigan as part of returning the plant to production and ending U.S. shortages of formula, said the Justice Department on Monday. The largest U.S. maker of formula, Abbott has said it could resume production within two weeks once it has a federal go-ahead but it could take several weeks for products to reach retailers.
The political environment looks promising for Republicans in the House, said Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Wednesday. The political newsletter said two Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee, Sanford Bishop and Antonio Delgado, are facing races that have become more competitive than they once were.
Calling it a step for “much-needed innovations,” 11 agricultural organizations urged an Agriculture Department takeover of federal regulation of genetically engineered food animals, now in FDA’s hands. The Trump administration proposed the transfer — over FDA objections — in late 2020 and it …
Following a safety review, U.S. food regulators said short-haired cattle produced through gene editing can be raised for meat production. Meat from the cattle could be available for purchase in as little as two years, said the Food and Drug Administration.
With a massive recall of infant formula underway, the USDA encouraged state and tribal officials on Wednesday to ensure that WIC recipients could exchange their recalled baby formula and use their WIC benefits to buy replacement products. Abbott announced a recall of three of its formula brands last week.
Following the FDA ban on use of medically important antibiotics to encourage weight gain in hogs, cattle and poultry, sales of the drugs are averaging 6.1 million kilograms (13.4 million pounds) a year, a decline of 37 percent from their 2015 peak.
Fruit and vegetable growers would be required to conduct annual assessments of their water supplies to identify and mitigate threats of contamination for their crops under a rule proposed by the FDA on Thursday. The assessments would replace a requirement that growers conduct tests of water quality.
Dr. Robert Califf, who led the FDA during the last year of the Obama administration, would run the agency again if the Senate agrees with President Biden's nomination. The president said Califf "has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic."
With Americans consuming 50 percent more salt than recommended, the FDA issued voluntary guidelines on Wednesday that would reduce sodium content in packaged and restaurant food, the major source of salt in the diet. The FDA said guidelines might "become one of the most significant public health nutrition interventions in a generation."
With cell-cultured meat getting closer to the marketplace, the USDA's meat safety agency is asking consumers how the high-tech products should be labeled and whether using names such as "pork loin" or "steak" to describe them should be permitted.
Since early this year, the FDA has warned against using the drug ivermectin, a livestock dewormer, to treat or prevent Covid-19. On Monday, it asked veterinarians and retailers to discourage their clientele from buying the medicine to use on themselves. “People are purchasing various highly …