House Democrats sink pilot project to limit SNAP purchases

On a voice vote Wednesday, minority-party Democrats deleted from the annual USDA-FDA funding bill a pilot project to block SNAP recipients from buying “unhealthy foods.” Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee said the pilot project, authored by Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, was paternalistic and impractical.

FDA begins new round of tests for H5N1 virus in dairy products

As part of research into milk safety, the FDA will conduct a second round of tests for the H5N1 avian flu virus in dairy products, aiming at a broader range of goods, such as aged raw milk cheese and butter and ice cream, the agency announced on Tuesday. The USDA said it intended to eradicate bird flu in dairy cattle without resorting to a yet-to-be-developed vaccine.

Inspector general slams FDA handling of infant formula recall

The FDA lacked or had inadequate policies in place to identify risks to the infant formula supply chain when it received complaints about production at a plant in Sturgis, Michigan, said an inspector general’s report on Thursday. Months passed before the FDA warned consumers in February 2022 not to use some of the products made at the Abbott Laboratories plant, leading to a formula shortage.

Pilot project in USDA-FDA bill would limit SNAP purchases

The government would set up five pilot projects to keep SNAP recipients from buying "unhealthy foods" under a provision in the USDA-FDA funding bill released on Monday. The House bill also would block the USDA from implementing three fair-play regulations on livestock marketing and refuse to pay for "President Biden's bureaucratic pay increases."

Block sales of raw milk that may contain H5N1 virus, FDA asks states

To reduce the risk of bird flu infections, state health officials should bar the sale of raw milk to consumers if it contains the H5N1 avian flu virus, said the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday. Although the FDA has long warned that raw milk is a high-risk food that may carry disease-causing pathogens, more than 30 states allow the sale of unpasteurized milk from the farm, in retail stores, or through so-called cow shares.

FDA reorganization elevating food oversight is approved

A reorganization of the FDA that included the appointment of its first deputy commissioner for human foods has been approved after months of preparation and is targeted for implementation on Oct. 1, said the agency on Thursday.

‘Absolute barrier’ against spread of bird flu virus is impossible, says Califf

The agriculture and food industry is entering an era of stepped-up precautions against the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus now that it has appeared in cattle for the first time, said FDA commissioner Robert Califf at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, there is no absolute barrier that can be created,” he said.

EPA, FDA, and USDA will overhaul biotech regulations

The three federal agencies that share jurisdiction over genetically engineered plants and animals said on Wednesday that they would update and streamline biotechnology regulations in five areas, including modified food animals. The United States is a worldwide leader in agricultural biotechnology.

FDA clarifies its approach to biotech animals

The Food and Drug Administration, the lead U.S. regulator of genetically engineered animals, issued two documents to clarify its risk-based oversight of the creatures and their developers. The agency exercises varying levels of scrutiny, ranging from full-scale review of an animal and its risk profile to instances in which developers can take an animal directly to market without consulting the FDA.

Bird flu virus likely travels from cow to cow via milk, says USDA

The “primary vector” for transmitting the H5N1 bird flu virus from dairy cow to dairy cow seems to be milk from an infected animal, said the USDA’s chief veterinary officer on Wednesday. Dr. Rosemary Sifford also said the USDA was considering whether to offer compensation to dairy farmers for cooperating in the investigation of the disease and for adopting stronger biosecurity safeguards.

USDA mandates bird flu tests of dairy cows before transport

Dairy farmers will be required to test their cattle for the H5N1 bird flu virus before shipping them across state lines, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday as the government tries to prevent the spread of the disease and learn more about how it is transmitted. The virus, a lethal threat to poultry, has moved from cow to cow, herd to herd, and cow to poultry, and has appeared in cows with no symptoms.

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.

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