Mad cow case traced to Tennessee producer
Animal health officials announced the seventh case of mad cow disease in the United States in 20 years — an apparently spontaneous infection of a beef cow from a farm in southeastern Tennessee.
USDA: Stronger biosecurity reduced spread of bird flu
Fewer than 900,000 birds in domestic flocks have died due to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) this year, said the Agriculture Department in a review of bird flu outbreaks that date from February 2022.
EPA ‘forever chemicals’ regs could cost communities billions, experts say
The Environmental Protection Agency is due to announce enforceable regulations on the amount of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of thousands of chemicals collectively known as PFAS, allowed in drinking water. Those rules, which could be announced as early as today, could end up costing communities around the country nearly $40 billion to implement, according to the Associated Press.
FDA needs a deputy commissioner for food, says coalition of lawmakers, industry and public health groups
If FDA commissioner Robert Califf listens to outside advice, he would create a powerful post — deputy commissioner for food — as part of restructuring of the agency. Califf could unveil a "new vision" for the FDA — which has been criticized as a disorganized protecter of the food supply — as early as Tuesday. The common idea from lawmakers, the food industry and public health groups was to put one person in charge of FDA's food offices.
Top FDA food safety official resigns as agency reorganization nears
Deputy commissioner Frank Yiannas resigned as the top food safety official at the FDA, effective Feb. 24, in a three-page letter that defended his record and criticized the agency for a decentralized structure that hobbled its protection of the food supply.
Study: freshwater fish full of forever chemicals
Just a single serving of freshwater fish per year could result in the same exposure to the “forever chemical” perfluorooctane sulfonate as drinking a month's worth of water laced with the chemical, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research. (No paywall)
Senate confirms U.S. ag negotiator and USDA food safety chief
In some of its final actions of the year, the Senate approved by voice vote on Thursday the nominations of Doug McKalip as chief agricultural negotiator at the U.S. trade representative’s office and Jose Esteban as Agriculture undersecretary for food safety.
Study: Lake Erie fish safe to eat, but still suffering
A new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment shows that while Lake Erie fish fillets are safe to eat, the fish themselves may not be doing so well.(No paywall)
White House bolsters security for food and ag sector
The federal government will keep a closer eye on threats to the U.S. food supply, such as cyberattacks and pandemic diseases, under a national security memorandum signed by President Biden.
USDA ‘framework’ intended to reduce salmonella-related illness
Poultry processors could be required to test birds for salmonella bacteria before slaughter and for so-called indicator organisms during processing under a USDA proposal aimed at reducing food-borne illnesses in raw poultry. Under the framework, the Food Safety and Inspection Service might create an enforceable standard to prevent sale of poultry with high levels of the bacteria.
As damage continues, EPA ponders whether dicamba is safe to use at all
The notoriously volatile weedkiller dicamba was blamed for 3,500 incidents of "off-target" damage this year, including to more than 1 million acres of soybeans, said the EPA on Tuesday. The regulator said it was reviewing whether dicamba "can be used in a manner that does not pose unreasonable risks" and said it would help states that wish to restrict use of the herbicide.
FDA proposes water rule for produce growers
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.
Biden taps long-time USDA scientist to oversee food safety
Jose Esteban, the chief scientist at USDA's meat inspection agency, is President Biden's choice to become agriculture undersecretary for food safety, announced the White House. If confirmed by the Senate, Esteban would be the USDA leader on issues ranging from prevention of food-borne illness to regulation of cell-cultured meat, now approaching commercialization.
Califf nominated to run FDA for a second time
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."
USDA will seek improvements to salmonella controls
Pointing to the tens of thousands of salmonella illnesses linked to poultry products each year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Tuesday that the USDA would mobilize "a stronger and more comprehensive effort" to reduce the risk of the disease-causing bacteria in raw poultry meat. The process could include pilot projects that encourage "pre-harvest controls" on the farm, an area not directly under USDA jurisdiction.
USDA may enlist farmers in its efforts to reduce salmonella in poultry
The USDA's food safety agency is considering new approaches to reduce salmonella bacteria in poultry that could include "pre-harvest interventions" on the farm, said Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Saundra Eskin on Tuesday. "We know that most salmonella contamination enters the facility with the birds and the more we can do to reduce contamination at the point of slaughter, the less contamination and cross-contamination we have in an establishment."
Eskin appointed to No. 2 food safety post at USDA
Sandra Eskin, director of food safety for the Pew Charitable Trusts, was appointed deputy undersecretary for food safety, announced the USDA on Tuesday.
Presidential election should be followed by a national food strategy, says report
The coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted food supplies and heightened food insecurity, should be the impetus for unified oversight of the food system, now splintered among dozens of regulatory agencies, said an "urgent call" for action from groups at the Harvard and Vermont law schools on Thursday.
U.S. and Mexico broaden food safety partnership
Food regulators from Mexico and the United States issued a statement of intent on Monday to expand a six-year-old partnership on food safety to cover all of the human food regulated by the FDA. Mexico is a leader in food trade with the United States; about one-third of all the food imported …