Congress avoids government shutdown, for fourth time

The House and Senate speedily passed a short-term government funding bill on Thursday, averting a partial government shutdown this weekend that would have included the USDA. “Now let us finish the job of funding the government so we don’t have to do this again,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Two goals for Califf: front-of-package labels and defining ‘healthy’

During a wide-ranging webinar, FDA commissioner Robert Califf listed two "very clear" goals for the agency this year — completion of regulations for front-of-package nutrition labels and writing a new definition of which foods can be labeled healthy. "It still amazes me that some people think [front of package labeling] is a bad idea," he said.

Hemp’s farm bill goals: Raised THC threshold, clearance as dietary supplement

Congress should encourage development of the hemp market by including provisions in the new farm bill that would allow the sale of hemp as a food additive and dietary supplement and raise the THC allowance for hemp plants, said the hemp industry on Wednesday. The 2018 farm bill legalized hemp, and its successor “could prove monumental for farmers and businesses,” said the industry.

Sales of antibiotics for food animals up again, reports FDA

Drugmakers sold 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics for use in cattle, hogs, and poultry last year, up 4 percent from 2021 and the second increase in two years, said the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

FDA will have ‘a more meaningful agenda’ on food additives, says deputy commissioner

While California took the spotlight with a new law banning four food additives, FDA deputy commissioner Jim Jones said on Monday that the agency will adopt "a more meaningful agenda" on food chemicals as it reorganizes its food safety wing. Jones, who began work two months ago as chief of human foods, has said the safe use of chemicals and dietary supplements is one of his three priorities.

FDA proposes banning brominated vegetable oil as food additive

The Food and Drug Administration moved to ban the use of brominated vegetable oil in food on Thursday, saying new tests proved conclusively that it was not safe. The agency acted a month after California outlawed BVO, along with three other food additives: potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3.

New FDA food chief names top three priorities

A month after starting work as the FDA’s first deputy commissioner for human foods, Jim Jones on Thursday listed three areas for attention to promote the health and wellness of Americans: preventing foodborne illness, decreasing diet-related chronic disease through improved nutrition, and protecting the food supply through the safe use of chemicals and dietary supplements.

As part of reorganization, FDA names its first deputy commissioner for food

Seven months after saying he would put more emphasis on food safety, FDA commissioner Robert Califf announced the appointment of James Jones as the agency’s first deputy commissioner for human foods on Wednesday. Jones, a former EPA pesticide regulator, was a member of a task force calling for unified leadership on food safety duties that have been scattered among FDA offices.

Bills would allow CBD in supplements, foods, and beverages

Companion bills in the Senate and House would allow the hemp derivative cannabidiol, also known as CBD, to be used in dietary supplements, foods, and beverages, the bills’ four sponsors said on Thursday.

Califf broadens scope of food regulation revamp at FDA

Seizing a "once in a generation opportunity," FDA commissioner Robert Califf said on Tuesday he would put more of the agency's activities under the control of a yet-to-be-named deputy commissioner for human foods. Califf proposed additional changes in the Office of Regulatory Affairs, one of the components of the new Human Foods Program.

In a landmark step, U.S. clears cell-cultured chicken for consumers

Two companies that grow “cultivated” chicken in fermentation vats rather than slaughtering poultry said on Wednesday their products will soon be sold in U.S. restaurants now that they have received final clearance from the government. “This approval will fundamentally change how meat makes it to the table,” said the chief executive of UPSIDE Foods.

Tougher scrutiny of land purchases by foreigners proposed

The Agriculture Department and the FDA would become members of a powerful U.S. committee that rules on the national security implications of foreign ownership of U.S. assets under a bipartisan Senate bill unveiled on Tuesday. The legislation would also empower the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), led by the Treasury, to consider retroactive divestment of real estate owned by foreign entities.

Legislative rider directs USDA to block farmland purchases by four nations

To foil foreign adversaries, the Agriculture Department should “take such steps as may be necessary” to prevent them from buying U.S. farmland, said the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, despite questions about whether the USDA has the authority to intrude on sales. “This is a very important step,” said Rep. Don Newhouse, sponsor of the legislative rider aimed at China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

End of OTC sale of medically important antibiotics for use in livestock

Beginning this week, livestock owners will need a prescription from a veterinarian before they can buy medically important antibiotics for use on their animals, announced the Food and Drug Administration on Monday. The new restriction is part of a multiyear campaign to preserve the efficacy of the antimicrobials in treating disease in humans.

One in six retail food dollars was spent on ‘natural’ food

Consumers spend more on foods labeled "natural" than for items with the "USDA Organic" seal on them, said three USDA economists who looked into usage of the word "natural" on food labels. They said scanner records and other data indicated that 16 percent of retail food expenditures were for foods labeled "natural."

With cuts, USDA will ‘do more with less,’ say House Republicans

Split on party lines, a House subcommittee approved a USDA spending bill on Thursday that would rescind $6 billion earmarked for clean energy and farm loan forgiveness and end work on fair play rules in livestock marketing. The bill also would limit Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s access to a $30 billion reserve that is being used to pay for a climate-smart agriculture initiative.

Stricter limit on SNAP benefits faces vote in House committee

House Republicans proposed broader application of a 90-day limit on food stamps for able-bodied adults as part of the annual USDA-FDA funding bill on Wednesday. The proposal mirrors the GOP position in debt ceiling negotiations with President Biden.

FDA again finds cell-cultured chicken is safe to eat

For the second time in four months, the FDA cleared cell-cultured chicken as safe to eat on Tuesday, an important step in bringing the food, grown in fermentation vats rather than from livestock, closer to the retail market. "It's food system transformation in action," said Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute, which promotes alternative proteins.

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