If farmworkers suffer a coronavirus outbreak, the nation’s food supply is at risk

In the coming weeks and months, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers will arrive in agricultural centers across the nation, where they will live and work in conditions that are prime for a coronavirus outbreak. Yet despite the fact that these are the men and women Americans depend on to plant, tend, and harvest their food, "these workers and their advocates say that many of the farmers who employ them have provided virtually no information on how they can protect themselves, their co-workers, and their families from the coronavirus — creating the potential for a massive public-health and food-security crisis."(No paywall)

Scientists say lax regulation of chemicals in food packaging endangers human health

Nine months after U.S. regulators found an industrial “forever chemical” in chocolate cake at levels some 250 times higher than federal recommendations, nearly three dozen independent scientists from 11 countries are warning that inadequate global regulations of chemicals in food packaging pose a growing risk to human health.(No paywall)

Are foodborne-illness outbreaks getting worse, or is detection getting better?

From lettuce to cookies, avocados to cheesecake, the last few years have seen a number of high-profile food recalls. According to the CDC, an estimated 48 million Americans get sick each year from foodborne illnesses. But the question of whether such outbreaks are getting worse is complicated, due to a combination of improved detection technology, a looser approach to regulation, and growing consolidation in the food industry, as Leah Douglas reports in FERN's latest story, published as part of Time magazine's special issue on the Science of Nutrition.(No paywall)

Avoid romaine lettuce from Salinas, FDA tells consumers amid E. coli outbreak

Following an outbreak of foodborne illness that sickened 40 people in 16 states, the FDA urged consumers to "not eat romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California." Romaine from other regions is not implicated but if there is any doubt about the origin of lettuce, "throw it away or return it to the place of purchase," said the agency on Friday.

Higher risk of cross-contamination when chicken is washed

Consumers are more likely to spread bacteria from raw chicken to salad ingredients when they wash the chicken, according to a USDA-funded study released on Tuesday.

USDA tiptoes into cell-based ‘meat ‘ argument

An estimated 40 companies worldwide are in the race to bring to market cell-based meat — "clean meat" in the eyes of proponents and "fake meat" according to ranchers. Asked if the product qualifies as meat, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Mindy Brashears responded, "This is something we will be talking about. That is an important priority for us."

FDA to delay ag-water rule until 2022

The FDA will soon announce a two-year delay on a rule setting water-quality standards for large produce farms, said Frank Yiannas, the agency’s deputy commissioner for food safety, on Thursday.

GE salmon cleared for U.S. dinner plates

More than three years after the FDA approved, for the first time, a genetically engineered animal as safe to eat, the government opened the door for AquaBounty Technologies to grow and sell its GE salmon in the United States. A biotech trade group said the fish, which developers say grows twice as fast as as conventional Atlantic salmon on 25-percent less feed, will "contribute to a more sustainable food supply."

As USDA and FDA agree on oversight, aggies rail against ‘fake meat’

In a step that moves a new industry closer to commercial reality, the premier federal food-safety agencies agreed on Thursday on how to jointly regulate cell-based meat, a laboratory-grown protein that farm groups call “fake meat.” The FDA will oversee cell collection and growth, while the USDA will oversee harvesting and processing, and have final say over labeling.

GAO urges more government attention to food safety

Congress may need to intervene to assure the high-level coordination of food safety efforts, said the Government Accountability Office on Wednesday in a report listing three dozen “high-risk” areas throughout the government.